DAVID McDAID will take no comfort from his current goalscoring exploits as the in-form Derry City striker has been denied the plaudits for two weeks in succession.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Creggan man netted a sublime equalising goal against league leaders Sligo Rovers at Brandywell Stadium on Friday, July 13th before Mark Quigley stole the headlines with four minutes remaining with his match-winning strike.
And last Friday at Oriel Park, the ‘Candy Stripes’ were on their way to a much needed win when McDaid put them ahead late in the second half but ‘Lilywhites’ captain, Chris Shields broke Derry hearts when snatching a share of the spoils with just five minutes left on the clock.
McDaid’s close range goal on 74 minutes took his league tally to a respectable six as he makes a significant impression in the absence of the injured Rory Patterson.
But Darius Kierans’ troops battled back to salvage their second consecutive home draw much to the frustration of Derry boss, Declan Devine who felt the performance was his side’s best of the season.
“I think it could be our best performance but we have had some other great games too,” he said. “We played very well for a lot of the match but didn’t kill them off.
“Let’s not forget that we went to Tallaght and defeated Shamrock Rovers 3-0 in the Setanta Cup, we beat Linfield 3-1 in the Brandywell and drew 1-1 at Windsor Park, we’ve played a lot of games and had some good performances in those.”
There were certainly plenty of positives to take form the game but Devine was disappointed at his side’s failure to be much more ruthless when in the ascendancy.
“The reality of it is, we have played very well and only came away with a point,” he added. “That has happened a lot this season, we don’t seem to be ruthless enough but we have played well and lost this season too so a point isn’t all bad.
“I’m both disappointed and pleased. Pleased that we played very well on the night. We kept possession of the ball on a very difficult surface. I felt we bossed the game for long periods.
“And I’m disappointed that we didn’t take more chances, we created a lot and even hit the post three times I think.
“I was very disappointed with the goal we gave away. We scored a fantastically good goal but we can’t afford to switch off and lose concentration like we did. It was late in the game and we should never have given it away.”
Dundalk also felt they should have been awarded a goal when Robert Waters’ header looked to have crossed the line but Devine felt Gerard Doherty had produced the save to deny the Co. Louth men.
“I thought it was an excellent save by Ger (Doherty),” said Devine. “It was a fantastic header and we defended the corner poorly but it was a great save.
“From my view it wasn’t in, the players’ reaction says a lot and they didn’t really argue so I don’t think so.”
City arrived needing a win to keep their hopes of a European place alive and Peter Cherrie - who was making his 100th appearance for the club - was called into action as early as the first minute when McDaid flashed a volley at goal from a difficult angle on the right.
At the other end Marc Griffin had a chance to punish Doherty after a mix-up in the Derry defence but the striker – who has been linked with a move to the Brandywell in recent weeks – hurried his shot and the chance was lost.
A nondescript 44 minutes followed with both sides wasteful in possession. Dundalk again looked short in quality when in possession but without the ball they remained disciplined and frustrated Derry although the ‘Candy Stripes’ should have taken a lead into the half-time break.
Devine’s side squandered a glorious opportunity just shy of the half hour mark. The returning Stephen McLaughlin was the architect, leaving Dundalk full-back Ben McLaughlin - a grandson of former Derry manager Jim - floundering in his wake on the left flank.
The winger made his way into the Dundalk penalty area where his cut-back found McDaid but the striker scuffed his effort and the ball bounced back off the crossbar from six-yards.
The home side were let off the hook again in the 40th minute when Ryan McBride headed over the bar after a Dermot McCaffrey corner had taken Cherrie out of the equation and a lacklustre first-half came to an end with the sides level.
If the first-half was a non-event, the same could not be said of the second.
McLaughlin continued to pose a threat to the Dundalk back four and in the 55th minute he went close to breaking the deadlock.
The Derry number 15 cut inside to stab a deflected left footed effort towards goal only to see it bounce off the underside of the crossbar and away to safety.
Four minutes later McLaughlin hit the woodwork again. This time McDaid was the creator, lofting a ball to the far post where McLaughlin did well to acrobatically guide an effort on target; Cherrie was beaten but not the upright.
That seemed to wake Dundalk from their slumber and in the 62nd minute the Oriel Park faithful were brought to life when Derry goalkeeper, Doherty did well to push a Robert Waters effort over the top.
Controversy followed from Nathan Murphy’s resulting corner. Waters looked to have forced a header home but Doherty palmed the ball clear with Dundalk players protesting that the ball had crossed the line. Referee Paul McLaughlin waved away their protests.
The deadlock was finally broken 11 minutes later. Derry City left-back Dermot McCaffrey broke on the left and his cross was knocked home from close range by McDaid.
That looked enough to have secured the visitors three points but Dundalk staged a late rally.
Shields went within inches of restoring parity when he smashed a half volley just off the mark in the 83rd minute but he was not to be denied and two minutes later the Dundalk club captain rose to head home from six-yards following a flurry of Dundalk corners.
There was still time for a late twist and the hosts almost staged a smash and grab when substitute Michael Rafter found himself with space to shoot but his left footed drive failed to trouble Doherty.
Although disappointed to return to Foylseide with just a point as they prepare for the visit of Shamrock Rovers this weekend, Devine was upbeat about his side’s chances of securing European football.
“We have games coming up that we need to get points out of,” said Devine. “We have players coming back and we hope to get our full squad out in the next few weeks.
“We are taking each match as it comes but our aim is to qualify for Europe. Our main focus is Shamrock Rovers next Friday. It’ll be a big game for us both but we have to take each week at a time and see how it goes.”
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Ben McLaughlin, Derek Foran, Chris Shields, Nathan Murphy; Paul Walsh, John Mountney, Stephen McDonnell (Peter Thomas 80), Robert Waters (Michael Rafter 67), Gary Shanahan; Marc Griffin. Unused subs: Finnian Farrelly, Philip McCabe, William Woods, Garreth Brady, Chris Reilly.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Owen Morrison (Mark Farren 82), Patrick McEleney, Barry Molloy, Stephen McLaughlin; Conor Murphy, David McDaid. Unused subs: Eugene Ferry, Marc Brolly, Ryan Curran, Barry McNamee, Matthew Rooney, Eddie McCallion.
Referee - Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).
Attendance - 1,139.
Derry City Summer Camp
Due to the success of the last summer camp, Derry City are running a second camp from July 30th until August 1st next.
The camp is aimed at children between the aged of six to 16 years and runs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.
Children are asked to bring boots, trainers, shin guards, rain jacket, water/juice, fruit/packed lunch.
Cost is £20 per child with reduction for families. Telephone the Derry City office on 71373111 for details.