All away tickets for Saturday’s match in the Showgrounds are SOLD OUT. The match will be streamed live on LOITV

What was your take on the President’s Cup defeat in Derry last Friday?

“It was a really good game to prepare ourselves for Sligo. I felt there were a lot of things that we did really well in the game and there were obviously some things that we need to improve. But overall we were happy with lots of aspects of the performance.”

While it would have been nice to lift the trophy, did the focus immediately turn to the start of the league and defending our title?

“I said from the first day of pre-season that our focus has been the first league game of the season. When we found out it was Sligo, that’s been our focus from then on and that hasn’t changed. We’re fully focused on Sligo so hopefully, we can go there, put in a good performance and win.”

All our new signings have featured at some stage in the two cup games. How are they settling in and do you feel they can make an impact in the early stages of the campaign?

“I think it’s important that they all featured last week to get a taste of it in our team. Obviously, they haven’t played together in a competitive game so it was good for them to get a feel for that. It’s not about them making an impact at the start of the season. We saw last year we had 54 games over the course of the season so it’s not about everyone flying early on, it’s about everyone contributing at different points of the season and I’ve no doubt we’ll need that again this season.”

It is obviously a big year for the club. Is there a lot of excitement amongst the players and staff to get the season underway now?

“We obviously had a good year last year, and a good time of, and then once you’re into pre-season you just want the league and those competitive games to be back. You want to be playing for points every weekend and we have that now. Everyone is really excited and looking forward to getting back on the pitch on Saturday.”

What sort of opposition are Sligo at the Showgrounds tomorrow?

“I think they’re a much more difficult opposition than what we faced last year. They have some really dangerous attacking players and we’ll see that on Saturday. It’s always a tough place to play. I’m sure there will be a big crowd and we’ve sold out our end, so it has all the makings of a good game.”

We were missing a number of players last week. Will any of them return?

“Rory Gaffney and Gary O’Neill are back. Rory was OK last week but we left him out. There were just the usual few knocks after Derry but nothing serious; all the subs at half-time were pre-planned to get them minutes. It’s the first game and we won’t rush anyone back. If it takes a little bit of time to get them back, we’re OK with that at this point of the season.”