Belfast Telegraph

Derry City get baptism of fire back in big time

Derry City have been handed a tough baptism on their return to the top flight of the League of Ireland.

The Candystripes will face the two most successful teams from 2010 in their opening home matches in the first month of the new campaign.

Stephen Kenny’s side face a tricky opener against double cup winners Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell when the action kicks-off on Friday, March 4.

That is followed by two away games — against UCD and Sporting Fingal — before a clash with champions Shamrock Rovers before the first month is out.

Michael O’Neill’s Dubliners will head to the north-west on Friday, March 25. Rovers won their first league title in 16 years back in October and will be well fancied to retain their crown.

Bohemians, who finished as runners-up to Rovers, have still to guarantee their place in the Premier Division, with boxes yet to be ticked in licensing criteria. If they make it they will travel to Derry on the final night of the season at the end of October.

Kenny completed his first piece of winter transfer activity last week, when he recruited 20-year-old winger Stephen McLaughlin from local rivals Finn Harps on a two-year deal.

Key players Barry Molloy and Kevin Deery have also signed new deals at the Brandywell as Kenny puts together a squad that he hopes will make as much of an impact on their return to the Premier Division as they did when previously among the elite group.

Belfast Telegraph

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