With matters of his own to resolve, Derry City manager Declan Devine is solely focused on finding his side’s first win of the season when troubled Dundalk visit the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium tonight for a most unlikely bottom-of-the-table clash.
Dundalk confirmed in a statement yesterday that coach Filippo Giovagnoli had ‘left the club with immediate effect’, while formally announcing that team manager Shane Keegan had also departed Oriel Park.
Jim Magilton, sporting director at the club, took training yesterday morning along with academy manager Stephen McDonnell and Giuseppe Rossi who remains part of the Lilywhites’ coaching team.
Devine was an interested spectator at Oriel Park on Saturday evening as a late Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe goal salvaged a second point of the season for Dundalk against erstwhile leaders St Patrick’s Athletic. A point more than rock0bottom Derry who got their first result when being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Drogheda United the previous night.
“Never mind their starting 11, you look at their bench and see players like Greg Sloggett, Junior, Patrick McEleney and David McMillan,” said Devine of the strength in depth of the visitors’ squad.
“They have fantastic options all over the park and we know the threat they possess.”
Despite their wait for a win, Devine took positives from Derry’s first point of the campaign against Drogheda.
“I believe we're steadily getting better and thought there were signs of improvement again on Friday night,” said Devine who is without midfielder Will Patching tonight due to his being on loan from Dundalk.
“Once again we gave ourselves a mountain to climb by conceding the first goal, but, after that, the application was really good.
“I keep saying it, but the fact is that there's a real positivity in the squad. They trained this weekend and that buzz to get playing the next game is fantastic to see.”
New signing, midfielder Wilfried Zahibo, an unused substitute on Saturday, could be set for his Dundalk debut. Brian Gartland and Daniel Kelly are out with knee injuries.
“A lot has happened over the past few days, but now it’s a matter of refocusing the players and, in fairness to them, they already have an understanding of what we are looking for,” said McDonnell.
In the pick of tonight’s other games, champions Shamrock Rovers travel to Drogheda hoping for a 90-minute display after creeping to the top of the table by the narrowest of margins following Saturday’s last gasp 2-1 win over Longford Town.
“First half was nowhere near what we are,” admitted Rovers’ manager Stephen Bradley who substituted both Lee Grace and captain Ronan Finn at half-time. “We were really, really poor.
“The second half was more like us. We got to our levels, our tempo, created five or six really good chances and thankfully we got the win in the end.”
Premier Division (7.45) Bohemians v Sligo Rovers Derry City v Dundalk Drogheda United v Shamrock Rovers Longford Town v Finn Harps St Patrick’s Athletic v Waterford