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Kenny unleashes young Derry on Ireland

Published: Friday 4 March 2011, 9.42CET
A Derry City FC side packed with young, local talent will look to upset the odds as the new Irish season begins, with coach Stephen Kenny telling UEFA.com: "I want to see them flourish."
by Aidan Fitzmaurice
from Dublin
Kenny unleashes young Derry on Ireland
Stephen Kenny celebrates winning the 2010 Irish first division title with Derry City ©Sportsfile
Published: Friday 4 March 2011, 9.42CET

Kenny unleashes young Derry on Ireland

A Derry City FC side packed with young, local talent will look to upset the odds as the new Irish season begins, with coach Stephen Kenny telling UEFA.com: "I want to see them flourish."

Previously they imported star names like Luther Blissett, Alan Sunderland and Dennis Tueart to turn out in the famous Candystripe shirt, but Derry City FC are putting the focus on young, local talent as they prepare to return to top-flight football in the new Irish Premier Division season which kicks off tonight.

We have players who aren't all that famous yet, but I think they will be by the end of the season.
Stephen Kenny

Demoted to the Republic of Ireland's second tier, Stephen Kenny's side won automatic promotion as champions at the first attempt and excitement is building among Derry fans, even though a tight budget restricted their close-season transfer activity.

The biggest news was the arrival of Dublin-born forward Eamon Zayed, now a full international with Libya. Kenny told UEFA.com: "Derry supporters love seeing technically good flair players, and Eamon will bring a bit of flair and experience to the squad."

Experience is something Derry may be short of, with 11 members of their 20-man squad aged under 20. Most of that selection are from the Derry area, and Kenny is excited about seeing how his team compete in a league where the champions, Shamrock Rovers FC, are favourites to retain their title.

"There is a real sense of anticipation in Derry as people feel this is something new," Kenny explained. "We have players who aren't all that famous yet, but I think they will be by the end of the season. We have the McEleney bothers [Patrick and Shane], James McClean, Michael McCrudden, Thomas McBride, Ruairí Harkin, David McDaid, Daniel Lafferty – all the same age group, around 18 or 19.

"We don't have a big squad so these players are going to play for us every week," he added. "I want to see them flourish and I can see some becoming full internationals in time. [Celtic FC players] Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn have gone on to become senior internationals with Northern Ireland after leaving the club and these players can do the same."

Derry begin by hosting a local derby against FAI Cup holders Sligo Rovers FC today, and will take on champions Shamrock Rovers in their second home fixture on 25 March. "We'll have a full house for those two matches, that's what football is all about," said Kenny. "Passion, a full house, two good teams going at it and playing good football. You don't want to be involved in games in an empty stadium."

Last updated: 04/03/11 14.19CET

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