Belfast Telegraph

Dykes hoping to build on Anderson's legacy at Mallards

By Graham Luney

Gavin Dykes has been handed the task of building on the extraordinary work of Whitey Anderson at Ferney Park and the former Derry City boss is up for the challenge.

Anderson, whose remarkable journey at the Fermanagh club ended after 10 years' service, transformed them into a Premiership force to be reckoned with but last season was a difficult one, culminating in a relegation play-off which they survived.

Dykes was head of youth development at Sligo Rovers and giving young players an opportunity to shine is part of his approach to the game.

The Mallards will have a youthful team this campaign but a brief summer break was far from ideal and the opening hurdle is a daunting one - at home to Linfield.

"It's a great match for the club to kick off the season, although they don't come much tougher," said Dykes. "Roy Carroll is a legend here and he's a fantastic signing for David Healy. He will be a huge influence on the team, a quality international with so much experience.

"Sammy Clingan is another big buy for them and we can't compete with these clubs in terms of the glamour buys. It makes our world a lot more competitive but it's a fresh start for us and we are keen to move on from the relegation fears last season.

"The pre-season has been difficult as the lads only had two and a half weeks off due to the delayed relegation play-off so the Blues will be ahead of us in terms of match fitness.

"It's a tough start for a young group but youth development is something I believe passionately in and I will show faith in the young players."

As a defender, Dykes played for Derry, Finn Harps and Sligo in the League of Ireland, and also Newry City in the Irish League.

"I was lucky enough to play for Newry City when Alfie Wylie was in charge and really enjoyed it," he added. "I've watched a lot of Irish League matches and there's added interest and excitement this year because a few high-profile signings have joined the league.

"Ballinamallard is only one hour up the road from where I live and it was one of the few jobs that I would have found appealing. It's a community-based club which has made tremendous strides under Whitey Anderson and it also believes in the importance of giving young players a chance.

"I've injected some energy and pace into the team in certain areas and the average age has been lowered. There's a freshness about the side but we still have the experience of Shane McCabe, James McKenna and Johnny Lafferty. I will do things my way and the buck will stop with me but this is about building on Whitey's legacy."

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