FORTRESS... Declan Devine wants his Derry City team to hit back against Finn Harps tomorrow night.
Declan Devine has promised Derry City fans the team will go at Finn Harps from the start of tomorrow night's derby game in a bid to get the season off and running with three points.
The City boss hates losing, and he does not want a repeat of last week's result against champions Dundalk as City welcome Harps for the first game at the Brandywell this year.
“Whenever we came into the club, we wanted to come in fo r the big games,” he explained. “We were away to Dundalk in the first game of the season, now our first home game is live on TV and is also against our biggest rivals. There's no doubt about that; Finn Harps are our biggest rivals. They are in close proximity and our supporters always look forward to these games and we have to treat it like a cup final.
“It's an opportunity for us to get up and running because we lost our first game and we have to make sure that we're bang at it on Friday because Harps will be coming confident on the back of a really good result also.”
City lost five home games last season, and Devine wants to improve on that record, asking his players to make the Brandywell an difficult venue for visiting teams in 2020.
“We want to get points on the board as quickly as possible but we know it's going to be difficult,” he continued. “I've never been involved in an easy one against Finn Harps.
“ I think every team in the country is going to be finding their feet over the next couple of weeks and that's what's key. Last year we hit the ground running quite well but every team is going to take time to get up to speed.
“At the same time we have got to make sure that the Brandywell is a fortress this year and make it somewhere no-one looks forward to coming and playing.
“That is exactly our game plan this week, making sure that we are the team on the ascendancy. We are playing at home and we have got to make sure that home advantage counts.”
City and Harps had some memorable clashes last year, and a packed Brandywell is expected in anticipation of yet another frenetic derby game.
“The pleasing thing for us is that we're playing on a brilliant surface, in a brilliant stadium, with a big crowd and a lot of people looking forward to seeing us perform,” he added.
“Finn Harps are working off a very big budget this year, being able to attract the players that they have so we have to make sure that we are at our very, very best to show our people and our supporters that we mean business this year.”
There are several interesting subplots to tomorrow's game, with the return of former City captain Barry McNamee at the top of the list. Shane McEleney, Sam Todd, Gareth Harkin and former Harps captain Ciaran Coll will also come up against their former teams.
“There a lot of ex-players playing but we just have to go about our jobs,” Devine stated.
“I'm only concerned about the players wearing red and white on Friday and we have got to make sure they do their jobs as best they can.
“I have no doubt they will because they have given serious, serious work in pre-season, their fitness levels are very high and our ability to get around the pitch is very high.
“I feel this year that we have a lot of goals in our team and I'm looking forward to the game. It will be more about what we do. We have to concentrate on ourselves and our own desire to win the game.”
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