Patterson tipped to fire Derry City to silverware
Rory Patterson carries the weight of expectation into the start of the new league season for Derry City as they take on Bohemians at the Brandywell this evening (7.45pm).
The Strabane man was the marquee signing of the close season by new manager Declan Devine and in Eamon Zayed, the Airtricity League’s top scorer last season, he has big boots to fill.
The Northern Ireland international has already hit his stride with a strike in each of the two legs of the Setanta Sports Cup tie in the 7-0 aggregate thrashing of Lisburn Distillery last month.
“Getting Rory was a big plus for us,” said Devine.
“The last thing I wanted to do was just go out and sign players for the sake of signing them because there were gaps in the squad from last season. Rory is a quality performer, a full international, and he’s a great addition to our squad.”
Pre-season could hardly have gone better for Devine and his new-look City squad which, although quite different in terms of personnel, appears to have retained the free-flowing style of predecessor Stephen Kenny.
And Devine is not expecting an easy ride in the league if his side is to once again challenge for the main honours.
“It’s a much stronger league this year than last and there aren’t as many cheap points.” he said.
“Bohemians might have lost a few players over the winter but they’ve signed a few good ones.
“Last year they held us to a goalless draw at the Brandywell when there wasn’t a lot between the sides and I’m expecting the same again on Friday.”
Patterson will be partnered up front by David McDaid with Mark Farren still out injured. Kevin Deery is also several weeks away from full fitness.
Stewart Greacen has returned to give a reassuring presence at the heart of the back four while Simon Madden already looks a more than adequate replacement for Daniel Lafferty at right back.
The achievement of reaching the Europa League group stages brought Shamrock Rovers to a new level and for Stephen Kenny — Michael O’Neill’s successor — it sets an incredibly high bar.
He has brought in some of his own men over the winter months as Rovers start as favourites for a third successive title.
St Patrick's Athletic could emerge as a big threat to the champions. It could be a dogfight at the bottom, but the promotion race from a downsized First Division should be straightforward. The financial backing of Pat O'Sullivan has allowed Pat Scully to construct a Limerick squad that is priced at 1/6 to top the table.