September 14, 2012 will forever belong to Mark Farren.
It was the date that the Donegal man finally beat Liam Coyle’s goal scoring record when he fired home three strikes against Mervue United in the quarter-final of the FAI Ford Cup in the Brandywell on Friday.
Declan Devine’s men made light work of the opposition and scored no less than seven goals. The goals came from Farren (3), David McDaid (2), Patrick McEleney and Ryan Curran. Pat Hoban grabbed a consolation goal for the visitor midway through the second half.
Despite the fact that Derry had reached the semi-finals of the cup competition, the fans sang ‘there’s only one Mark Farren’ at the end of the game and whether Derry go on to win the cup or not, the 2012 quarter-final against Mervue will be remembered as the night Mark Farren broke Liam Coyle’s record.
The 30 year-old forward surpassed Coyle’s goal-scoring record of 112 goals when he netted his third of the night and his 113th of his Derry City career in the second half.
Speaking to the Sunday Journal after the game, Farren said that whilst he was happy to beat the record he was more delighted to have helped the team to reach the semi-final stages of the competition.
“When I started here, Liam Coyle was the unbelievable player that I looked up to. I also played as a full-back until I was 21 or 22 so to be the club’s top goal scorer now is pretty unreal.”
Coyle, who played for Derry for 12 seasons before retiring in 2003 told the Sunday Journal that he was delighted that his record now belonged to someone who had shown tremendous pride for the Derry City jersey over years.
“I said to Mark while ago that I never played in the First Division so in my eyes I am still the top scorer,” joked Coyle yesterday.
“No, seriously, I am delighted for Mark Farren because he has been a real servant for Derry City throughout the years and it’s nice that someone who has played with such honour and loyalty is now the club’s top scorer.”
Farren netted once in the first half against Mervue before making sure of the record in the 60th and 61st minutes respectively.
The former Monaghan United striker described the record as a “weight of his shoulders” but was adamant about his intent to score more goals and to help Declan Devine’s men go all the way and lift the cup.
“It’s a bit strange because obviously there was a few years I missed through illness so in that regard it’s quite an achievement for me.
“I suppose it’s a weight off my shoulders if I am honest but the most important thing was that the team got the result tonight,” he said humbly.
“Tonight’s game was like a cup final for Mervue [United] and they were going to try and make it difficult for us so to get the result was brilliant but, yes, obviously I am delighted to have beaten the record and hopefully I can push on and score a few more.”
Farren, who started his career as a full-back, joined Derry City from Monaghan United on a free transfer in 2003.
The pacey striker was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009 and as a result was forced into early retirement. At that stage in his career, the prospect of beating Liam Coyle’s record was virtually impossible but when then manager Stephen Kenny welcomed him back into the team last season, the whispers on the terraces started again and on Friday night the wait was over - Farren had beaten the record.
“It’s been a hard year for me in terms of fitness and injuries so to be out there scoring a hat-trick tonight is just brilliant.
“Everyone knows all about the issues that I had but they are behind me now and it was just good to be back playing, scoring goals because that’s what I enjoy doing.
“I have been trying not to think about the record too much but it’s nice that I can put it to bed now and hopefully now I can help Derry to get further in the cup and push on in the league.”
Greencastle man, Farren, has already signed a pre-contract agreement with Irish League outfit Glenavon and will be swapping Brandywell for Mourneview Park in January of 2013.
“I have a family and I have to consider them when making decisions and I am looking forward to the new challenge and hopefully I can go there to try and help them to win something.”
Also speaking after Friday’s game was Derry City boss Declan Devine.
Devine said that he hoped that now Farren had beaten Coyle’s record, he would go on and “smash it”.
“I am delighted for Mark and I was the first to shake his hand after the game,” said Devine.
“Mark has been with Derry City for a long time and I have been here for a big part of it too. Derry City F.C. was founded in 1928 so the fact that he is the club’s top scorer is a major feat.
“Mark deserves a lot of credit, especially for what he has been through, but I am hoping that now he has beaten Liam Coyle’s record, he will kick on and smash it and get more goals.”
See Tuesday’s ‘Journal’ for more reaction to Mark Farren’s record breaking night at the Brandywell.