SOMETIMES IN sport, a team or individual’s sheer honest endeavour can reign supreme over their more highly skilled and talented opponents.
That’s what happened on two occasions last week as a youthful Derry City side knocked Sligo Rovers out of the EA Sports Cup and then Shamrock Rovers defeated odds-on favourites, Partizan Belgrade to proceed to the group stages of the Europa League.
If you weren’t at the Brandywell for the League Cup game, it’s very different to explain exactly what the atmosphere was like. It was one of those unique occasions when the team and the fans were absolutely united.
Looking at the two teams before kick-off, no one would have given Derry City a chance, but sheer determination, a slice or two of luck, a few moments of class and the crowd were glued to their seats with no one leaving until the final whistle and even then, people seemed reluctant to leave the “feel good” atmosphere in the stadium.
At times in the game, Sligo’s superior skill threatened to overwhelm us but I have rarely seen a team give so much to hang in the game and ensure ultimate victory.
It would have been a crime if those players hadn’t got a result after the incredible effort they put in.
And Shamrock Rovers did Irish football proud by going into the lion’s den, so to speak, and producing probably the best ever Irish club result in European competitions.
Partizan dominated possession, had a hat-full of chances but Rovers hung in there, refused to give up and got their just reward.
Skill is important in football, however, it’s not everything and sometimes the will to win or at least not to be defeated can produce incredible results.
Read more from the Doc in Tuesday’s Journal