Winning the league title isn't out of the question for Derry City: Peter Cherrie

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PETER CHERRIE believes winning the League of Ireland Premier Division title isn’t out of the question for Derry City this season.

The Derry City goalkeeper is one of just three people among the current set-up at Brandywell to have a League of Ireland top flight winners’ medal.

Alongside new City captain, Conor McCormack and manager, Declan Devine, Cherrie knows exactly what it takes to win the league title having done so with Dundalk in 2014.

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And the 36 year-old Scotsman has been so impressed with his City teammates in pre-season, he reckons they can bring the title back to Brandywell for the first time since 1997 if they maintain their current mindset and quickly click into gear.

CONFIDENT . . . Derry City goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie pictured with Ciaran CollCONFIDENT . . . Derry City goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie pictured with Ciaran Coll
CONFIDENT . . . Derry City goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie pictured with Ciaran Coll

“I don’t think it’s an unrealistic view - going for the league - because look what we did last year and it was a brand new team.

“I think there were 22 new players last year. Now we have the nucleus of the team from last year and one or two added so I don’t know why we can’t go for the league but we all have to have the same mindset, the same ambitions and drive.

“But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to go for the league.”

Derry won’t have long to wait for a first test of their title credentials as they travel to play league champions, Dundalk, tonight at Oriel Park in the league opener.

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It’s perhaps the best time to play the Lilywhites who have failed to win on their opening match of the last two seasons. It will be a good barometer of where this Derry team is at and Cherrie claims the team are relishing the challenge.

“It doesn’t matter who you play,” he said, “The two teams will be a bit iffy because it’s the first game after pre-season. But sure where else would you want to go - it’s the home of the champions on the first day of the season.

“There will be a great atmosphere and if you can’t handle that then I think you’re in the wrong business. It is what it is. It’s just another game!”

It’s refreshing to hear ambitious talk of competing with the league’s ‘big two’ and Derry’s squad certainly appears more competitive this season with Devine intent on having at least two players for every position on the pitch.

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That includes the team’s No. 1 spot and Cherrie has welcomed the competition from fellow keeper, Nathan Gartside.

“The squad has improved. Big Danny Lupano, I think he’s only 19 years of age but he’s a big man. He plays defence and I watched him the other day against Bray and he’s so calm and composed. I could tell he’s been playing in England but at the same time he can hit you a tackle which is great. You need that.

“We’ve got Moussa (Bakayoko) as well who is just a flying machine up and down that wing. He’s a bit like Junior in a way and we’ve seen in training that Tim (Nilsen) can finish. He’s a good goalscorer and a great guy off the pitch.

“And, I suppose like everywhere else, the two goalkeepers are always going at it but there’s a friendship and a mutual respect there. At the end of the day it’s up to Declan but if Nathan can learn off me and if he has any questions for me I’m always there - I’ve told him that. My phone is always on if he needs me and if he’s playing, he’s playing, if he’s not, he’s not.

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“You just have to come in every day with a smile on your face and train because there’s no better job in the world. You could be doing worse things.

“If you’re down then your form goes. So whoever plays, plays. He’s done it for years. I’ve done it for years so we know the score.”