Derry City boss, Declan Devine, is hoping that the support his team enjoyed at last season’s FAI Cup final in Dublin will be replicated at the Brandywell tomorrow night when the Candy Stripes take on Drogheda United in the Setanta Sports Cup. (Kick-off, 7.45pm)
Tomorrow’s game will be Derry’s first competitive fixture of the 2013 season and with a semi-final place up for grabs, it’s easy to understand why Devine is hoping for a win.
“Ordinarily, I would have preferred for the first leg of the quarter-final against Drogheda [United] but if I am honest I am delighted it’s at the Brandywell - I hope to see the Brandywell jumping again,” he said.
“The support we got from the fans last season at the cup final was amazing and it would be really good for the team if we can continue on with that in 2013.”
Derry will be without influential midfielder, Barry Molloy who is suspended and it is believed that both new signing Sean Houston and left-back Dermot McCaffrey will be forced to sit tomorrow evening’s game out because of injury.
“I don’t want to give too much away at this stage but it’s safe to say that we will be without Barry Molloy, Michael Duffy and Sean Houston.
“I think Barry’s suspension is an absolute joke but there’s nothing we can do about it. I am confident that the players in the squad will do a good job and what better way to start the new season than with a win at the Brandywell.”
Devine’s intentions are clear regarding tomorrow’s home leg quarter-final against Mick Cooke’s men but the Derry boss is refusing to take anything for granted.
“Mick [Cooke] has really strengthened his team during the off-season,” said Devine.
“Not only do they have good technical players but Drogheda have players who can hurt you too.
“The Brennan brothers [Ryan and Gavin] are two talented players. They have a very strong squad and I think that Drogheda will definitely challenge for the league title this year.
“We’ll have to be at our best if we are to win,” said the 39 year-old Creggan man.
Devine has been no stranger to the transfer window himself. During the off-season he signed midfielders Paddy Kavanagh, Sean Houston, Mark Crawley and forwards Michael Rafter and Marc Griffin.
Despite having had the chance to observe his new signings during several pre-season friendlies, Devine said that he can get a better understanding of a player’s ability when his team is playing competitive football.
“I think everyone is excited about getting back to games with a high tempo and you can bet that when the match starts on Monday, the pace of the game will be at 100mph,” he said.
“I am looking forward to seeing how the new players get on. I am pleased with how pre-season training went but don’t get me wrong, we can always be fitter.
“I think if everyone’s reading off the same hymn sheet we’ll do well. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting or sitting on the bench - if everyone is pulling in the same direction it makes the whole process of trying to win football matches much easier. Hopefully, we can do that on Monday night at the Brandywell.”
See Tuesday’s ‘Journal’ for first local coverage of the first leg of Derry City’s Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final against Drogheda United.