DERRY City will field their new players for next Monday night’s trip to the Riverside Stadium to face Institute in the annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The current holders of the trophy, the Brandywell side will then face Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park the following Monday night (February 11th) with the only home fixture scheduled against a N. Ireland Junior International Select on Wednesday, February 20th.
The final pre-season fixture will be played against Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Sunday, February 24th with the kick-off organised for 2.30 p.m.
Looking forward to Monday’s match against Institute, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, held the late Billy Kee in high regard having played under him for Institute in the Intermediate League in years gone by.
“I played for Billy as a 15-year-old in the Intermediate League and I’ve great respect for Billy and the Kee family,” said the Derry boss.
“He was the first manager I played under in adult football and I also remember the day he passed away, so I’ve always been proud to travel to Drumahoe leading a team to play in Billy’s memory.
“It’s always been a tough game with an edge to it and I expect that trend to continue having watched Institute on a few occasions this season. “They have talented young players and I think the fixture will prove to be a good marker for us in our first pre-season fixture.”
Hoping to give game time to the vast majority of his first team panel, the Derry boss confirmed that new players such as Paddy Kavanagh, Sean Houston, Michael Rafter and young goalkeeper, Joe Coll, would figure but those players carrying minor knocks would not be risked.
“We will continue to manage Kevin Deery’s early season fitness levels while Barry Molloy (calf) and Ruaidhri Higgins (hamstring) have minor knocks and they may also miss out.
“All in all, I hope to use the vast majority of the first team panel and the players are certainly looking forward to getting some match practise under their belts.
“While the new players will all take part, I also intend to keep faith with your younger players who have been moved up. Strikers Michael Duffy and Ryan Curran will now join the likes of Barry McNamee and Patrick McEleney and compete for places in the first team this season.”
Delighted with the effort and commitment put in since returning to training, Devine was also impressed with the hunger and desire displayed by the players on the training pitch.
“The players have worked very, very hard since we returned to training and, to be fair, these games are coming at us very quickly which, at times, can prove to be an interruption in our pre-season campaign.
“At this point in time, it’s all about getting fit, but once players start playing games they require rest afterwards which does interrupt the programme. Fitness first, then match fitness follows but as players they all want to get back into action as soon as possible.
“Institute will be tough as the players on both sides will know each other well. As I’ve said, there’s always an edge to this particular game, so I would expect a decent crowd to travel to Drumahoe on Monday night,” he concluded.