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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 February 2007, 00:07 GMT
Focus on Fenlon
By Ritchie Kelly
BBC Radio Foyle

Pat Fenlon
Pat Fenlon is already making his mark at Derry City
If Derry City were seeking an Irish club to twin with Glentoran would be high on the list.

They no longer of course play in the same league - the Troubles forced Derry out of the IFA's jurisdiction away back in 1972 and ultimately - after thirteen years years in the wilderness - into the League of Ireland.

However, Monday's Setanta Cup game at the Oval allows the clubs to renew competitive rivalry, as was the case last year.

Relations with the East Belfast club had been particularly harmonious during Derry's 43 year sojourn in the Irish League.

The feeling that something special existed between the clubs had been copperfastened by City's three Irish Cup final triumphs - all of which came at the expense of Glentoran.

The clubs now live in different worlds though with Derry to all intents and purposes, a full-time professional team and Glentoran a part-time outfit.

The Candystripes play in a league that runs through the summer, the Glens ply their trade in an Irish League wedded to the traditional British winter season.

The contrasting seasons mean Glentoran go into Monday night's encounter "battle hardened" as their manager Paul Millar puts it but on the debit side he worries that three games in eight days may leave his troops with little recovery time.

"The full-time aspect comes into it," argues Millar. "And it always will."

And to underline the different world the clubs now live in he reminds us: "if our boys play against Derry on Monday night they still have to get up to go to work on Tuesday morning".

We won't be lacking in fitness

Derry City boss Pat Fenlon

Derry on the other hand haven't kicked a ball in earnest since 3 December when they beat St Patricks Athletic 4-3 in what has been described as the best FAI Cup final of modern times.

They're in pre-season mode but it's not something that worries their new manager Pat Fenlon.

"We won't be lacking in fitness," says the new Derry manager.

" We've got a lot of young players with a lot of good legs as well.

"On the fitness I'm not worried. On the sharpness and the little mistakes that you make early in the season they will be there so we have to work on them."

Another aspect of this game is that attention is firmly focused on Derry's new boss.

Most managers have a honeymoon period but because of the nature of the Setanta Cup, the former Shelbourne boss is pitched in at the deep end.

Fenlon certainly has the managerial credentials as three league titles in four seasons at Shelbourne demonstrated.

Greg O'Halloran
Pat Fenlon's signings include Greg O'Halloran

He's set about the task of putting his own stamp on a side that last season under Stephen Kenny won the League Cup, the FAI Cup, survived two rounds in Europe and lost the league title on the last day of the campaign on goal difference.

Four new players have been signed - Dave Rogers, Greg O'Halloran from his old club Shelbourne and Karl Bermingham and Kyle Moran have returned from England.

The new Brandywell supremo is still searching for a goalkeeper and he also says he wants another striker who can supply height and "presence" in the penaltry area.

Fenlon's dilemma is that on the one hand the Setanta Cup is literally his pre-season but on the other hand he's aware how much the Red and White Army want to do well in the Setanta Cup.

"Derry City supporters have let me know that Glentoran and Linfield are the games they want to win more than anything else," he acknowledges.

Shades of times past perhaps.

And then to add to the intrigue there's huge curiosity among Derry's large support base on how the new man will go about the business of trying to add to the successes engineered by his predecessor Stephen Kenny.

It may indeed be Derry's pre-season, the match sharpness may not yet be there and the Brandywell club may have more important targets to pursue than the Setanta Cup.

However, the nature of the beast is that a new manager inheriting a successful squad is under intense scrutiny from the off no matter how triumphant he has been elsewhere.


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