It’s a case of back where it all began for returning Derry City midfielder Barry McNamee, following a season away from the Brandywell.
After a number of standout campaigns in midfield for the Candystripes, McNamee made the move down South in November 2017, joining double-winners Cork City.
McNamee impressed at the Leesiders, featuring 33 times and scoring four goals as they came up short in the two-horse title race to eventual winners Dundalk.
At the end of the season the 26-year old weighed up his options and instead of staying on with Caulfield’s side, he moved back to his hometown club Derry City.
Speaking at the launch of the Airtricity League on Tuesday, McNamee outlined that despite the host of new faces at the Brandywell, not much at the club has changed since his departure.
“I wouldn’t say much is different but if you look at the squad it’s a whole new squad compared to last year and there is a new management team but to the locals in the squad, it’s very familiar and there is a lot of local players in the staff now.
“In around the city for training and stuff, a lot of the new boys are saying there is a great buzz about the city.”
Last season, Derry managed to comfortably avoid relegation but ended up 17 points behind the European places, finishing eighth in the table.
McNamee admitted that although the much-changed Derry City side would like to look at a spot in Europe as the goal for the season, they are keen to take this campaign one game at a time.
“It’s hard to have too many aims. The aim is to beat UCD on Friday night and that’s all really.
“We want to challenge for Europe and stuff like that but we will see how long it takes for us to gel together because it’s a brand new group and a lot of young players who maybe don’t have the experience of this league.
“It is a tough league like you see players coming back from England a lot of the time and you see them struggling to adapt.
“It’s going to be a physical league which a lot of the boys will learn quickly once the games start like its all going good in training and everything has been positive in training but you don’t know yourself until the games start.”
A home game to kick off the season will be a timely boost for McNamee and Derry but despite being one of the promoted teams their opponents UCD will no doubt pose a difficult challenge on their return to the top flight.
The creative midfielder outlined that he watched their narrow cup defeat to Dundalk last season and was very impressed with what he saw from the students.
“It’s going to be very tough UCD did very well in the first division last year,” began McNamee.
“I didn’t really see much of the first division last season and the only game I saw them play was against Dundalk and they pushed them all the way and there was only one goal in it and they gave Dundalk what they wanted.
“They probably lacked up front but this week and the next couple of days we are going to look into it a lot and it’s going to be no pushover.
“They have a lot of fit lads and they have probably been playing a lot of games in the college competition so it’s definitely not the easiest start to the season but we hope to do well.”