By Kevin Hughes Some of the finest players in Irish club football have come through the ranks at Derry City’s underage setup. From Patrick McEleney and Micheal Duffy, to the Republic of Ireland’s James McClean, Derry City have a habit of producing s
By Kevin Hughes
Some of the finest players in Irish club football have come through the ranks at Derry City’s underage setup. From Patrick McEleney and Micheal Duffy, to the Republic of Ireland’s James McClean, Derry City have a habit of producing some of the finest players in the country.
The club has been known for placing an emphasis on the development of its youth players, as they seek the next big name to come through the setup and Gary Duffy, who is currently looking after the club’s Under 17 side in the Northern Elite Division, is one of a number of people at the club tracking the progress of the younger players.
“The emphasis on developing young players at Derry speaks for itself, you only have to look at Kenny Shiels’ first-team squad at the minute,” explains Duffy.
Duffy speaks about the importance of having a manager like Shiels in charge: “I hope Kenny stays, he’s keen on youth football. He looked after the Northern Ireland Under 17s before so the longer we can keep him the better for our youth players.”
The current Derry squad is made of many former Derry City youth players including Ronan Curtis and Barry McNamee and Duffy believes that this should be a source of motivation for the current youth players at the club.
“If I can get three players through to the first team, that’s like three leagues for me.”
“We take pride in players coming through and playing for the first team”.
Derry’s recent success story, James McClean, looks set to earn his 50th cap for the Republic of Ireland and there are many youth players at his former club who are hoping to follow in his footsteps, insists Duffy.
“We encourage them to play the Derry way, to be the next McClean”.
The development of youth players is the main focus of every decision Duffy makes. He explained the importance of game time for younger players, and how development is always the main focus over winning.
“The first half of the season was all about giving players as much game time as possible.”
However it will change for his squad as the second half of the season arrives.
“The second half of the season is all about emphasising fighting for your place in the team”.
“You’ll never hear us speaking about results,” he adds.
Duffy believes that more clubs are buying into the development of youth players, but insists that Derry still don’t get enough praise for the work they do at youth level.
“Everyone is talking about how great the youth set up is at other places, Shamrock Rovers for example. Stephen Bradley is doing a great job there, and he’s buying into youth football, but Derry have been doing that the whole time.”
While we cannot predict the future, history tells us that it won’t be long before Derry produces another youth player into a first team star and Duffy’s final point highlights the confidence he has in the youth development system in place at his club: “The future is very bright at Derry City football club.”