Declan Devine: Manager parts company with Derry City after poor start to season

Declan Devine
Derry lost their opening four games of the League of Ireland season and remain bottom of the table despite two subsequent draws

Derry City have parted ways with manager Declan Devine after the Candystripes' poor start to the season.

The club announced the decision on Thursday morning with the team bottom of the League of Ireland Premier Division after six rounds of fixtures.

After four opening defeats, Derry have drawn their last two games but that didn't prove enough to save Devine.

"Derry City FC and Declan Devine have parted company by mutual consent," said a club statement.

"The board wish to thank Declan for his service to the club and wish him well for the future."

It brings an end to Devine's second spell at the helm, after he returned to the Brandywell in November 2018.

Those already being linked with the job include former Derry City player Ruaidhrí Higgins who is part of the backroom staff of Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin and Finn Harps assistant boss Paul Hegarty, who had a stint as caretaker boss of the Candystripes in 2015.

Happier times as Derry City chairman Philip O'Doherty shakes hands after Devine was appointed to his first spell as Candystripes boss in 2012
Derry City chairman Philip O'Doherty and his fellow directors appointed Devine as manager on two occasions

Derry in 'relegation dogfight' - O'Doherty

Derry chairman Philip O'Doherty said that he met Devine at 08:30 BST on Thursday morning - some 30 minutes before the manager's departure was announced.

"I think it was the right decision for both of us," said the Candystripes chairman.

"He's obviously tried his best but we've got two points out of 18 and I think that's weighing on Declan as well. Declan is not happy himself over that position.

"We're pretty much in a relegation dogfight after six games. Not where we wanted to be at all.

"Declan and I shook hands, parted company and now we're looking to get the next manager on board very, very quickly because we have a massive game [against Sligo Rovers] on Saturday."

A statement released by Devine said he had been "honoured to have managed our football club Derry City FC not once but twice will always be externally proud and grateful to Philip O'Doherty for those opportunities".

"Unfortunately recent results have not been what they should have and I'm the first to accept the professional game is all about winning," he added.

"I would like to thank all our current players for their honesty, professionalism and dedication over the last number of months and have no doubt this young side will evolve into something we can all be truly proud of.

"I will look back on my time as manager with great pride and qualifying for Europe in three of my four seasons and reaching three cup finals will always make me smile although the biggest satisfaction will always be seeing the Brandywell full to the rafters again.

"The last 20 games have not been the same seeing the place empty and I look forward to the day when we are all back in the stadium urging on the team."

Devine led Derry to 2012 FAI Cup triumph

Devine's second spell in the Derry hotseat saw the Candystripes clinch a European berth in his first season, however their return to the Europa League was short-lived as they fell to Lithuanian side RK Riteriai in the opening qualifying round.

Their struggles continued throughout the pandemic-disrupted 2020 campaign, in which they only secured their top-flight status on the final day of the season.

Four defeats to open the current season led to further immediate pressure on the Derry native.

Devine first joined Derry in January 2012, guiding them to an FAI Cup triumph in his first season before his second campaign resulted in his sacking despite once again securing European football.

Having spent time as a youth coach in the elite performance Club NI scheme, he returned to Derry in 2018 following the sacking of current Northern Ireland women's manager Kenny Shiels.

After last week's 2-0 defeat by Shamrock Rovers, Devine remained publicly bullish about his side's season, dismissing suggestions that Derry were already in a relegation battle.

But despite the run of defeats being halted by home draws against Drogheda United and Dundalk, the Derry board has opted for the change.

First-team coach Mark McChrystal took charge of Derry training on Thursday.

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