Conor McCormack stresses importance of breeding a winning mentality at Derry City
AN IMPRESSIVE pre-season doesn’t always guarantee a successful league campaign but Conor McCormack stressed the importance of breeding a winning mentality at Derry City.
The Candy Stripes have opened their pre-season with two straight victories over Drogheda United (0-1) and Finn Harps (3-0) and the former Cork City captain is determined to build on that momentum ahead of the league opener against Dundalk at Oriel Park on February 14th.
McCormack, representing Derry at Brandywell for the first time since 2016, got another welcome 45 minutes under his belt in the second half of the 3-0 victory over Harps.
The 29 year-old midfielder admits it’s been a hard slog of a pre-season already but he’s dismissed the term ‘meaningless friendly’ and hopes another couple of impressive performances and results will ensure that winning feeling heading into the season itself.
“Pre-season has been hard here,” he admitted. “Declan demands an awful lot and we have a good group of players now who have all bought into it. We’re all working hard.”
“I came up here to win,” insisted the former Manchester United youth. “I didn’t come up here for anything else. If we’re training or playing a five aside game, I want to win.
“Hopefully I can bring my bit of experience into that and help a few lads. I have won titles, had cup wins and have won big matches so if I can help in any way.
“It was a good workout last Friday against Drogheda and we built on that on Wednesday night. It’s good to get the win. It’s always good to win, regardless if it’s a friendly match or not. We want to win and that’s our motto this year, we want to win matches.
“It wasn’t very impressive but it was impressive. We can do a lot more and improve on that in the next few weeks.”
Derry found themselves two goals to the good through a brace from Norweigian trialist, Tim Nilsen - who subsequently signed a one year deal with the club - in the first half and Devine opted to ring the changes after the interval.
The City boss has some terrific options in the middle of the park. The impressive Jack Malone and Gerardo Bruna were replaced by McCormack, Ciaron Harkin and Conor Clifford after the break with Walter Figueira moving into a No. 10 role and McCormack is delighted with the versatility in the City ranks.
“Every player we have in there (in midfield) is different and has different qualities,” he said. “There’s attacking midfielders, defensive midfielders, a number eight, a number six, a number 10 and creative midfielders.
“So there’s a good mixture and if we have an injury or two or if someone isn’t hitting form then there’s just as good to come off the bench and that’s very important we push each other through training sessions and games and fight for that match day shirt.
“We have some sharp, bright players and it’s a matter of us all getting to know each other. There’s a lot of new players coming in, myself included, and we have to get to know the players that were here last year and blend in well.
“That’s what pre-season is for and what these matches are for and I’m sure come the first game of the season we will all be ready to go.”
Derry’s pre-season campaign continues when they contest the Billy Kee Memorial Cup against Institute at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Tuesday next, January 28th.
The scheduled clash with Bluefin Sport Irish Championship leaders, Portadown has been called off. Devine will then take his troops on a three-day training camp to Abbotstown, Dublin on February 2nd during which they’re expected to take on Bray Wanderers.