DERRY City can win the Premier Division title this season - that’s the view of Drogheda United boss, Mick Cooke, who leads his “Boynesiders” back to the Brandywell this Friday night for a vital league fixture.
And for Declan Devine’s “Candy Stripes,” this weekend’s Premier Division game is considered a huge fixture given the bitterly disappointing performance by the home side against the same opposition when crashing out of the EA Sports League Cup at the semi-final last week.
But Derry have returned to prominence following what was a deserved 1-3 victory at the Belfield Bowl against UCD on Friday night, a result which will certainly boost confidence levels on Foyleside.
Drogheda, however, managed to build on their excellent results against St. Pat’s and Derry with an impressive 3-0 demolition of Limerick last weekend as they now prepare for another trip to the Brandywell.
But Cooke was adamant that Derry can win the title this season having faced the “Candy Stripes” on no fewer than five occasions this season already.
“We’ve done well against Derry in the cup competitions having beat them in the Setanta Sports Cup and, of course, in the League Cup last week. But in the league, Derry beat us in Drogheda (2-3) after we held them to a draw at the Brandywell (1-1) in our first meeting.
“Derry City are a good footballing team, no one can deny that,” he said. “They have some top quality players and while they’ve slipped up in games against Dundalk and Sligo at the Brandywell over recent weeks, I still believe they are capable of winning the title and the fact that they must play St. Pat’s twice is interesting,” he declared.
“I’ve no doubt whatsoever that there will be many twists and turns before the end of the current season and knowing Derry as well as I do, I would never rule them out.
“They are not challenging for the title due to luck, they are in fourth place on merit,” noted Cooke.
“DROGS” JUST LOVE PLAYING AT BRANDYWELL
However, while praising Friday night’s opponents, Cooke will also be travelling to win the game and he hopes his side can replicate their performance in last Monday night’s shock 1-3 victory.
“My players love travelling to Derry. They love playing at the Brandywell. There’s always a great atmosphere up there. The match will be played on an excellent surface and, more importantly, it has always been a good footballing game and I don’t expect that to change.
“We will be travelling up on the back of a good run and we’re trying to finish as high as we possible can in the league table having tried to build on last season’s success. But we’ve struggled a bit in the league having had three draws on the spin which has cost us. “So we’re now seeking a strong finish after impressive results against St. Pat’s, Derry in the League Cup and Limerick last weekend.
“We want to finish as high up the league as we can and we’re also still competing in the League Cup and FAI Cup, so we’re doing okay at the moment.”
Veteran striker, Declan “Fabio” O’Brien, single-handedly tore the Derry defence to shreds in the League Cup game when scoring two of his side’s three goals and he was back in the spotlight when netting again in the 3-0 victory over Limerick on Friday night, with the Brennan brothers adding a goal apiece.