Declan Devine: 'When you get into Europe you want to stay in it for as long as you can- It's going to be extremely difficult for us but it's something that we want to get the most out of'

Tue, Jun 23 2020

Derry City boss Declan Devine admits that he is relishing the Candystripes European return in August, despite the challenges that it will pose.

The Derry native returned to take charge of his hometown club before the start of the 2019 season, leading his side to a Europa League place in his first year back in the hotseat.

Europe is crucial to a club like the Foylesiders who are striving to return to the top of the Premier Division, and Devine is glad that he’ll be able to bring his club back into European competition in August.

“It was crucial that we got the news last week and it was very welcome for us also. It’s unusual that it’s a one-off game but I think everything is unusual at the minute,” he told extratime.ie.

“There’s going to be a huge amount of luck involved in a one-off game, are you at home or are you away, how far do you have to travel but for us it was a real positive. We worked so hard to get back into Europe last year and I think it’s a just reward for the players that are still here.

“The game in Europe is key to Irish clubs because it could be worth up to €250,000 – you get just €100,000 for winning the league for instance so this ninety-minute game becomes this key.”

And given the recent news that the Europa League qualifiers will take place over one tie rather than the two , the 46-year-old is wary of how much of a role luck will play: “It is very much down to the luck of the draw now for us.”

He added: “When you get the opportunity to play or manage in Europe it’s something that stays with you for your whole career.

“Last time I managed Derry we drew Trabzonspor, but the following year after I had left the club, they had drawn Aberystwyth for instance and that was a tie Derry won quite comfortably.

“It is very much about the luck of the draw and all we can do is to get into the best condition we can do to best face whoever we do play. That will just come under our own umbrella and we look forward to doing that.

“When you do get into Europe you want to stay in it for as long as you can. It’s going to be extremely difficult for us but it’s something that we want to get the most out of when we’re there.”

Despite a mixed return to league action this term – prior to the break at least – Devine has stressed that his side’s ambitions have remained the same despite the pause in action.

“Our ambition at the start of the year was to do better than we did last year,” he said. “

“We obviously had a bit of a mixed bag at the start but we’re confident in our ability and we feel that we will be able to make a good show of ourselves when we come back.

“It was always to try and win a cup and to enhance our league position. There’s still room for improvement, we want to be challenging the top teams and I think a club like Derry City has to be in a position where they are challenging at the top end of the table.

“Our targets will still be the same – we want to qualify for Europe every year and we want to make sure we’re able to do it again this year.”

However, the Derry boss is more than aware of the important role his club’s support plays – and he admits the last couple of months has emphasised that point even more.

“We’re a community club, we’re nothing without our supporters,” he finished. “When myself and my backroom team came in a year ago, we publicly stated that we wanted to get that place rocking again and it was.

“It’s a city that always respect an honesty about its football team, and you have to have that work ethic, desire and buy-in to empty it on the pitch.

“We’re only as good as our supporters, and that’s something we make sure that we tell all the players when they join the club that our fans are everything to us.

“Every club will say that but there’s just a serious bond between the Derry fans and players. Yes, they want to be entertained but they’re also very intelligent football people because they know when they can’t be.

“As a minimum, it should be based on hard work and fight. The Brandywell is in the middle of the Bogside for instance.

“There’s a lot of deprivation in these areas, a lot of people have had to fight for everything that they have had and we’re just a reflection of those people and we just do that in a football game.”