By Gary Ferry
Kenny Shiels is hoping for a favourable Europa League draw for Derry City, as a reward to the clubs’ supporters who have travelled home and away with the club this season.
The Candy Stripes will discover the identity of their opponents this afternoon as the club prepares to make its first appearance on the European stage in three years. City had a memorable encounter with Turkish side Trabzonspor in their last Europa League outing under Declan Devine in the summer of 2014, and Shiels is hoping for similar memories for the supporters this time around.
“This is my third provincial club I’ve taken into Europe; Coleraine, Ballymena and Derry,” he told the Derry News. “It brings a bit of excitement around the club obviously. When I look at the supporters down at Bray and we got beat, you feel for them, and because of the energy they put into supporting the team, you’d love to have some excitement. Who knows what might happen in the draw?”
Shiels is adamant that City will not be there just to make up the numbers however and expressed his hope that the draw is favourable to his team and gives them a decent chance of progression.
“The draw will give you an idea but it gives you the next round as well which is good, so the supporters deserve a good draw I think,” he continued. “People are always talking about how hard a time it has been for the team and the management and the club but sometimes we overlook how hard it has been for the support. You have to consider the commitment they have made and how great it would be if they got a good raw. You don’t want a draw where it’s going to be a damp squid at the end of it all; we want a draw where we’re going to go through so that they have that experience and that feeling of success.
“I want to go somewhere where we will give a good performance and result for those people who have made that massive commitment from their working day life. I would love to do that.”
Progression through each stage of the Europa League has added financial benefits for the club and Shiels admitted that success on the European stage would be reward for the hard-working individuals behind the scenes at Derry City.
“For the club as well and for Philip O’Doherty, I would love to do it for him, to get us through,” he continued. “He has put so much commitment into the financial side and he never gets any credit for it. People don’t realise the commitment he makes in terms of organisation; he gives a lot more than financial input, with things such as meetings about small simple things. He doesn’t need that. It’s so trivial and I would just like to do it for Philip and Sean Barrett and people around the club who have put so much in. I would love to get them through the first round if we could.”
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