‘Fats’ the way to do it

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - August 12th 2011.'Airtricity League Premier Division. Derry City V St. Patrick's Athletic.'Patrick McEleney celebrates Derry's opening goal.''Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography
�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - August 12th 2011.'Airtricity League Premier Division. Derry City V St. Patrick's Athletic.'Patrick McEleney celebrates Derry's opening goal.''Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

BRANDYWELL boss, Stephen Kenny, refuses to describe this Thursday’s big game against Shamrock Rovers as a possible title decider, but he did agree that a victory in Tallaght would certainly make Derry’s final three matches very interesting. (K.O. 7.00 p.m., live on RTE 2).

BRANDYWELL boss, Stephen Kenny, refuses to describe this Thursday’s big game against Shamrock Rovers as a possible title decider, but he did agree that a victory in Tallaght would certainly make Derry’s final three matches very interesting. (K.O. 7.00 p.m., live on RTE 2).

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Clearly delighted with his side’s 0-2 victory in Dundalk on Saturday, not to mention the defeat of Sligo Rovers by St. Pat’s later that evening, Kenny agreed the confidence levels had been boosted in the changing room.

And while he is looking forward to the trip to Tallaght this week, Kenny also believes that his squad can continue to rise to the occasions given previous experiences in high profile matches.

“Last season we had to travel to Monaghan to win the First Division title and we achieved that. This season we had to travel to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City in the League Cup final and we won that, so that tells me that our squad is capable of travelling to difficult venues such as Tallaght to get good results,” claimed the Dubliner.

“Our young players continue to mature and we’ve a number of match-winners in the team, none more so that Patrick McEleney who finished the First Division in great style when netting no fewer than five goals in the final three matches,” noted Kenny.

McEleney, who celebrated his 19th birthday last week, exhibited a hard-working performance at Oriel Park but Kenny believes the teenager is capable of rising to the occasion as the current campaign draws to a close.

“For one so young, Patrick can certainly rise to the big occasions and that’s a great quality to have. He did it in Dalymount Park this season and while he hasn’t set the world alight with his goals tally this year, I’m confident that he’s one player who can turn this Thursday’s game in our favour.

“He has been a match-winner for us in the past with top quality goals - particularly in big matches - and given his technical ability, I’ve every faith that he will cause Shamrock Rovers their fair share of problems on Thursday night.”

Refused to get involved in talk about winning the league title, the Dubliner opted for the same approach which had been adopted for the Dundalk game, refusing to look beyond the Rovers clash.

“Our total focus is now centred on the Rovers game and I think we will travel to Dublin with confidence. We’ve played them three times this season and have yet to face defeat with a scoreless result in the Brandywell, a 1-1 result in Tallaght before defeating them 1-0 in our last meeting at home.

“The have a first team squad of something like 26 senior players, so it’s very difficult to predict the team that will face us. That said, it’s a case of 11 v. 11 and we’ll be fully prepared for the challenge,” insisted Kenny.

He also referred to the collective spirit which exists in the current Derry group of players, a spirit which has intensified as the season progressed having lost just three league matches in a total of 32 played this season.

Strong Spirit in Group

“The spirit in the group has been extremely strong and while we do admire teams of the quality of teams such as Sligo Rovers (seven defeats) and Shamrock Rovers (five defeats), we take pride in the fact that we’ve lost just three.

“But, like every other team, we have also encountered setbacks when drawing matches we had more or less dominated, so every match is difficult and nothing can be taken for granted in this league. Thursday night, therefore, could not be described as a title decider as there are still quite a few matches to be played.”

Sligo Rovers have two league matches remaining - away to Bohemians and home to UCD and after Thursday night, Shamrock Rovers face UCD (away) and Galway (home) in their final two games.

With the “Candy Stripes” facing three matches after this Thursday’s confrontation - home to Galway this Sunday (5.00 p.m.) before travelling to St. Pat’s and finishing with a home clash against Bohemians - it’s a very tough run-in but much will depend on the result for Tallaght this week.

“The Rovers match is not a league title decider, but it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to remain in the race and attempt to achieve something that has never been achieved before. I think it’s fair to suggest that we have surprised many with our performances this season, but we have ambition and we’ll be taking that to Tallaght. We can’t afford to be cautious, we’ve got to try to win the game,” he concluded.

On the team front, Derry will plan without the services of Eddie McCallion and Owen Morrison, both continuing to struggle with calf problems but Ryan McBride has improved following a groin strain having experienced no reaction when running with club physio, Columb O’Neill this week and his condition will be monitored in training this week.