After their quadruple-winning exploits of 2015, Derry City Ladies will take an historic first step into the NWIFA’s Premier Division this season - and they will do it with a new management team.
The end of Liam McKinney’s hugely successful stint in charge will see Paul Roddy and Rory Kehoe team up with long-term coach Adrian Quigley to guide the Candy Stripe ladies through their first taste of top flight football.
Performance analyst, Conor O’Doherty, and Strength & Conditioning coach, Niall Kelly, complete the backroom staff.
As well as claiming the Championship league title, McKinney’s team also secured the Championship League Cup, the Foyle Cup and the ‘Ballymena Sevens’ in 2015 and former Oxford United Stars coach, Roddy, knows the new management team have a tough act to follow.
“The girls had an outstanding season last year with their trophy haul,” said Roddy. “Liam McKinney did a fantastic job and all involved should be proud of their achievement.
“However, we’re under no illusions. Stepping into the pinnacle of female football in the country for the first time in the club’s history won’t be easy but it’s something we are all relishing.”
Last year’s Premiership champions, Newry City, won the title ahead of Linfield, Crusaders and Glentoran in what was their first year in the top division and the Brandywell club is hoping to emulate that success against the big clubs in 2016.
“We know, as a collective, this will be our toughest test to date, but we are ambitious, both as a coaching staff and a playing staff,” says Roddy.
“We’re all eager to get on the pitch and start putting our plans in motion for the upcoming campaign.
“To be playing in an environment where you get to test your abilities against the best teams in the country is something we are very much looking forward to.”
City moved from the Inishowen League to the N.I.W.F.A. set-up nine years ago and Rory Kehoe believes the team can continue to progress.
“We can never stop improving and we strive to be better each day,” he said. “We’re a very young squad but it’s a squad that excites me and my fellow coaches very much. We have plenty of potential within the group.”
The NIWFA Premiership will begin in March and match highlights will be shown every Wednesday night on UTV.