BARRY Molloy says it was a ‘strange’ feeling running out onto the Brandywell pitch in opposition colours last Tuesday night as he helped his new club, Finn Harps, emerge with an unlikely point.
But it was far from an emotional return when he crossed the white line at Brandywell - just business as usual for the combative midfielder tasked with a very specific job.
I think Derry City can finish as high up in the league as they want. There’s a lot of talent there. But I’m a Harps man now and that’s my focus.Barry Molloy
The Bishop Street native and former Derry City skipper was told to negate the threat of City midfielder, Barry McNamee, and he did so to great effect for large parts of the match.
Making just his third start of the season, Molloy did well to protect the back four as Harps remained solid and well organised until Derry substitute, Josh Daniels, finally broke down their resolve with six minutes left on the clock.
Molloy felt it was only a matter of time before Derry eventually found the back of the net, adding that he was delighted Harps escaped with a valuable point.
“We know Barry McNamee has had a great start to the season playing off Rory Patterson, so that was something we were trying to eliminate,” said Molloy afterwards.
“And we did for a while but it became harder the more the game went on. The legs were getting sore with the lack of fitness.
“To a certain extent, our gameplan worked but we need to learn that we can’t sit back and invite pressure on because, in the Premier Division, you’re going to get punished and we got punished by two goals.
“The first 25 minutes we pressed them high and had a few chances from mistakes, so it worked. But, after that, we sat too deep and they played very well. They have a lot of good quality around the park and you can’t defend like that for 70 minutes against a team like Derry. They’re going to get opportunities and they did that. But Housty’s (Sean Houston) header at the end saved us and it’s a great point. So we’re happy.”
Molloy, who devoted 10 years loyal service to the ‘Candy Stripes’, played his first game in the blue and white of Harps against Kenny Shiels’ troops on the opening day of the season at Ballybofey.
He picked up an injury in that game which kept him out for large parts of the opening phase of games.
Now he’s slowly returning to full fitness and looking forward to doing his bit to help Harps maintain their place in the top flight. But how did he feel about his first return to the Brandywell?
“It was strange being back here,” he said. “It was strange playing against Derry in the first game of the season in Ballybofey but, obviously, it’s very different playing at Brandywell. Everyone knows my history with Derry.
“But, once you get over that white line, you forget about all that and just try to get on with it. When you go to a new club you want to be fit. It wasn’t the ideal start for myself getting injured after three or four minutes. It’s disappointing that I’ve missed a big chunk of the games but I’m slowly getting there.
“I’ve played the last three games and got a lot of minutes under my belt. So every game I can get a bit fitter and help the team stay up.”
While Molloy has helped take four points from his former club this season, he’s been very impressed by the quality of the team. And he believes Derry can finish as ‘high up the league as they want.”
“After the first game when we beat Derry there were a lot of people throwing the towel in, saying Derry would have a long season and were getting carried away a bit by the result.
“But what a response it’s been. Kenny Shiels has brought in a lot of players and it will take time but the response since the first game of the season has been brilliant and they deserve to be where they are.
“There’s a lot of quality in the team. I think they can finish as high up in the league as they want. There’s a lot of talent there, But I’m a Harps man now and that’s my focus.”