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Brandywell can inspire Institute players on their return to the big time, says boss and Derry City fan McLaughlin

By Steven Beacom

Instititute manager Paddy McLaughlin wants the iconic Brandywell to inspire his players on the club's return to the Irish Premiership, starting against Newry City tomorrow.

Last season's Championship winners are playing their home games at Derry City's ground this term with Institute's Drumahoe Riverside stadium out of action after being destroyed by flooding almost 12 months ago.

McLaughlin, who encourages his side to play attractive football, grew up supporting the Candystripes and says it will be a special moment leading the team out for their first top flight fixture in three years.

"I grew up as a Derry City fan and most of our players are Derry City fans so it's brilliant for them and those who never got a chance to play at the Brandywell for Derry City because now they can do it for Institute," said McLaughlin.

"There is a real buzz about the squad and the players can't wait to get started and I'm the same. It will be a special day for everyone connected with the club playing in the Irish Premiership again.

"It's also great for the city having Derry and Institute playing in the top divisions in their league. There is a real positive feeling around the city for football which is fantastic."

There is some negativity, however, about Institute's chances of staying up with many feeling they are favourites for relegation alongside fellow newly promoted outfit Newry.

"Anyone who gets promoted will have the underdog tag and I understand that because the other clubs have been established in the top flight for years, so we know ourselves and Newry will be labelled as underdogs and we're fine with that," says McLaughlin.

"To be honest we were also underdogs from the second week of last season in the Championship after the flood at our ground.

"People wrote us off then and we still came good so I don't mind people thinking we will be up against it."

Determined to make an impression in the Danske Bank Premiership, McLaughlin added: "We have worked hard over the past year to get ourselves into the Irish Premiership and it's here on Saturday so we are looking forward to it and want to enjoy it. We have not got promoted just to make up the numbers. We aren't at this level simply to fulfil fixtures.

"We are here to compete. We know there will be some difficult weeks ahead but we're ready for it."

Institute and Newry know each other well having fought it out at the top of the Championship last season. McLaughlin has much respect for opposite number Darren Mullen.

"We had our battles last season and they pushed us all the way," says McLaughlin.

"Fair play to Darren Mullen, the manager at Newry, he has done fantastically well since taking over gaining four promotions in five years which is incredible.

"He deserves a lot of praise and he is a gentleman and good football man.

"We will go head to head at the weekend and then we'll have our own battles to face throughout the season."

He added: "There's a lot of good football people from around the city who are looking forward to coming to the Brandywell and watching Institute for the first time, the more the merrier as it will give the team a lift.

"For any team getting promoted you are going to be up against it to stay up but we were written off last year from day one and did alright - this is a team of young, exciting players with no fear."

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