By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Derry City got their league campaign off to the perfect start with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over promoted UCD, in front of a packed house at the Ryan McBride Stadium on Friday night.
The Candystripes, featuring nine debutants in Declan Devine’s starting eleven, totally outplayed the students. Two goals from the on-loan Eoghan Stokes and one from David Parkhouse secured the win for Derry.
Stokes second goal was a fortuitous effort from almost half-way, as he spotted goalkeeper Conor Kearns off his line only for the ball to come off the head of defender Josh Collins and into the net.
One of those debutants was 20 year-old centre-back Josh Kerr, on loan from Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion’s Under 23 team.
Kerr was solid throughout, and he was pleased with the way things went in his first game, “I thought I done okay for it being my first professional game and being out of position, although I don’t mind playing different positions. I’m versatile that way, and as long as I’m on the pitch I don’t mind.”
Since arriving at the club at the beginning of the year Kerr has been overwhelmed at the way he’s been received, and he says that’s down to Devine, “The manager has been great with me since the first time we met, he’s went out his way to make sure I’ve settled in and I can’t thank him enough for that, he’s a manager that demands effort and commitment and I think that’s something every footballer should have as a minimum and your talent and skill will come along with that.”
Devine has been making sure the players, especially players not local to the Derry area, know how important the team is to the people of Derry. Only this week he brought the whole squad on a walking tour of The Derry Walls to get a feel for the city.
A performance in front of the home fans was something new manager Devine has been drumming into his players all through pre-season and Kerr echoed that, “I think it was very important for us to get off to a winning start and to keep a clean sheet. In the weeks leading up to the start of the season we all wanted the fans to get behind us and they did so. I think the least we could do was repay them with a win and clean sheet, something that didn’t happen very often towards the end of last season.”
Enjoyed that professional debut last night 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/wvw92HA4IJ
— JOSH KERR (@Joshkerr5) February 16, 2019
With a crowd of over 3,500 in attendance at the Brandywell Kerr was thrilled to play in such an atmosphere, “It was a great feeling playing in front of so many fans that didn’t stop singing all game. It’s a very passionate set of supporters and city as a whole and I think that is something I can relate to. I’m very passionate about what I do and want to give my all everytime I put on the shirt.”
The young defender knows it’s just one win, albeit an important one, but bigger tests lie ahead, “Although it was a great result we can’t get to ahead of ourselves, it’s still early days and we have to take it game by game as we’re still a new group and this is only the start of the journey.”
Derry face a real test of their credentials next Friday as they head to Tallaght Stadium to take on Stephen Bradley’s title contenders Shamrock Rovers.
Picture Credits: JPJPhotography & Kevin Morrison