GERARD Doherty believes the ‘Dublin Super Cup experience’ could boost Derry City’s chances of clinching the Airtricity Premier Division title this season.
MICHAEL WILSON reports
The Brandywell No. 1 drew high praise from Irish goalkeeping legend Pat Bonner and fellow Sky television pundit and former Everton favourite Peter Beagrie for his performance in the League XI’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday. Doherty’s secure handling and excellent shot stopping against Roberto Mancini’s team also saw England keeper Joe Hart, who was watching as an unused substitute in the game, seek out the Derry man to congratulate him and present him with his shirt after the game.
Doherty was part of an 11-strong Brandywell contingent at the tournament in the Aviva Stadium and the Creggan man believes the experience of competing against such illustrious opponents can only help Derry as they prepare for the title run-in.
“The tournament was great to play in, certainly a lot better than the last year when I went down and only got about 20 minutes football,” explained Doherty.
“We went down on the Tuesday and couldn’t have asked to be treated any better. Everything we first class from the training to the way Damien and his coaching team looked after us.
“Our goalkeeping coach was talking to Pat Bonner after the Man City game and said he had been very complimentary about me and coming from someone like Pat, that means a lot. Even before the games I think the couple of days training had been excellent and I felt very sharp.
“Joe Hart came over to me after the game and congratulated me. I was chatting to him and Stuart Taylor and watching some of their warm-up routines etc. but they both said some nice things. Joe actually gave me his shirt after the game. That wasn’t something I was thinking about or looking for - I wanted to concentrate on my own game - but I thought it was a nice gesture.”
Doherty revealed he had been very impressed with Damien Richardson and his Airtricity League coaches.
“The whole experience, for all the boys who went down, can only benefit Derry City. It was great to get away like that and be able to learn new things from different coaches like Kenny Cunningham. All the boys were very impressed by Kenny and what he had to say.
“The whole experience was great, especially for the younger players like Ryan (McBride) or Stephen (McLaughlin). Look at Ryan for example. He hasn’t got that many senior games under his belt but fully deserved the call-up and got to experience a whole new level of football. It was like an international set-up with the training camp and how things were run. The players who were there will certainly have learned from it.
“Even watching the games you weren’t appearing in was a learning curve. Just seeing how the players conducted themselves and they way they go about their job, it was excellent.”
Gareth McGlynn’s nasty looking knee injury picked up in the early stages of Sunday’s game against Celtic was the only black spot on the competition from a Derry point of view and Doherty said the local players should be proud of their performances and bring the positives back to Brandywell
“The main difference you noticed straight away was the fitness and strength of the other teams and that was something Damien (Richardson) kept telling us to learn from and take back to our own clubs.
“It was not just a level up in that respect, it was four or five levels up. Both Celtic and Man City never stopped running and their concentration levels were very high. We did alright against them but when we began to tire our concentration levels dropped a little and you could see the difference.”
After a string of impressive displays for Derry and now the Airtricity League, it is inevitable Doherty’s name has been mentioned as a potential international call-up, not that Doherty worries too much about it.
“International football is not something that worries me. I have been asked about it before but if it happens, it happens, I won’t lose any sleep over it. It would be nice but I just want to concentrate on playing well for Derry City. We have a lot of important games coming up.
“We have to remember who pays the wages. The Super Cup can only help Derry City because of the amount of players who experienced the training and the games against quality opposition. The only black spot was the injury to Gareth (McGlynn) but hopefully that is not too bad because we have to hit the ground running this week against Galway and we are well in there.
“This is a position we have not been in for quite a few years and we want to try and take advantage. We will be back training on Wednesday and our concentration will be fully on the Airtricity Premier League and Galway. The break was nice and the Super Cup does give domestic players something to aspire to each season now but this week it will be back to the real business of Derry City,” he added.