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11th Jun 2018

Derry City give Paddy McCourt brilliant role others would be afraid to give him

Conan Doherty

Don’t sell McCourt, Paddy McCourt, I just don’t think you understand.

After 10 years, Paddy McCourt is going home.

10 years since he left the Brandywell, he has found his way back to his native Derry. It was a long road that took him there, through Glasgow, Barnsley, Brighton, Notts County, Luton, Armagh and Donegal.

At last, the Candystripes’ favourite son has come home.

Derry City announced on Monday that Paddy McCourt would be taking up a role as Head of the Club’s Youth Academy and that he’d be starting at the end of the season when he finishes up with Finn Harps.

“I’m really happy to be coming back to Derry City and in particular to have the opportunity to oversee this new development programme” McCourt said on the City website.

“The club has identified an area where they feel more work is needed to secure the future of the younger players as they come through the ranks and it is a challenge I am relishing.”

“It looks like there will be plenty of work ahead so I have notified Finn Harps that I will be retiring when my current contract is up to concentrate fully on this role.”

It’s an exciting appointment for the club but an even more important one in the north west.

The amount of talented young footballers Derry produces is a special thing but how little of them make the breakthrough or stay at it, even after being hoovered up by English clubs as teenagers, is alarming.

They need someone like McCourt there at the coalface, as an inspiration and a leader. He’s an example to every footballer in the city and, at 34, he still has so much to give at the ground floor.

They say that, if he was born in a different era, Paddy McCourt would’ve been one of the best footballers on the planet but, sure, we’ll never put that to the test.

What we do know is that he was gloriously effortless. Moments of magic came easy to him. Brilliance poured out of him and his adventure, his audacity was a joy to behold.

The fact that a club is putting a player like that now at the head of their youth speaks volumes for Kenny Shiels and Derry City. We’re still in an age where a lot of coaches are afraid to rid youngsters of shackles. Percentages have taken over what ifs. Safety first stifles creativity but, here, we have a daring wizard now directly inspiring the next generation.

Welcome back, Paddy.

And if you sell McCourt, Paddy McCourt, you’ll have a f**king riot on your hands.

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Paddy McCourt