Club: Derry City
Manager: Kenny Shiels
Stadium: Brandywell Stadium
Highest attendance this season: 2,600 (Estimate)
Highest league goalscorer: Aaron McEneff (10)
Mid-season position: 5th
How we thought they would do
No one really knew what to expect from Derry as they returned home to the Brandywell after a twelve months ‘on the road’ at Maginn Park. Signings were made but some were unproven and held a track record of moving clubs. Shiels needed them all to click in order to cope with the loss of star man Barry McNamee. Mid-table, challenging for European spots is what many would have expected at the beginning of the year.
How they really have done
In reality the season started off poor, but upon returning the Brandywell got really, really good. Goals were flowing, the stands were heaving and more importantly the results kept coming. Since then a host of pre-season signing have left for various reasons, Ronan Curtis has departed for Portsmouth while it seems that Aaron McEneff may be on his way to Rotherham United.
Moment of the season so far
Undoubtedly returning home to their home, the Brandywell Stadium after a year away due to redevelopments. Eight games unbeaten suggested that Derry could maybe operate around the top of the table and definitely for the European spots. However, events of late have left that appearing rather unlikely.
Star Player: Aaron McEneff
McEneff has been at the end of everything that has went well in what has been a turbulent first half of the season for the Candystripes. The former Spurs man has rattled up ten goals from midfield and currently sits as the club's top scorer. His good form hasn’t gone unnoticed as he looks set to make the move to English league one club Rotherham United when the transfer window opens in July.
Surprise star player: Eoin Toal
The former Armagh City man has thrived at centre half and become a mainstay in the Derry team. Not many knew much about the defender upon arrival on the Lonemoor Road but they certainly know him now. His aerial prowess, confidence on the ball alongside brave defending has made him a fan favourite.
Young player Conor McDermott
McDermott is one of the first names in Kenny Shiels’ team-sheet with his versatility a real asset in a deeply depleted squad. The Northern Ireland underage international has been solid at his favoured right back with performances likened to Seamus Coleman. He has filled in as a holding midfield player as well as, most recently, partnering Eoin Toal at centre back.
Star signing: Ronan Hale
The on-loan Birmingham City striker got his Derry career of to the perfect start with a hat-trick in his home debut. Since then he has got important goals although the obvious upheaval around him has meant that chances created and therefore goals have dried up. To date Hale has notched up seven league goals for the Candystripes.
What they need to do in the transfer market
A lot. Summer signings on the most part have not worked out to such a degree that most of them have departed the club before the mid-point in the season. This, alongside the departure of key player Ronan Curtis and the likelihood Aaron McEneff will move away, Shiels needs to be busy in this window.
Where we see them finishing
If no signings of real quality come in and Aaron McEneff does depart, Derry could really struggle in the second half of the season. The squad looks razor thin and has extremely young players threw into first team action earlier than is ideal. Mid-table is were Derry are likely to finish in reality.