Let’s get with the Programme!

Martin Russell, UCD manager

Martin Russell, UCD manager

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THE students of UCD may have been embarrassed by that 0-6 drubbing by Derry City at Belfield in March, but the motivating factor in their revenge at Brandywell last Friday night emanated from the Derry City match day programme!

SIMON COLLINS reports

Having read over the “Cityview” programme before the kick-off, UCD boss, Martin Russell, took exception to a comment in one particular article and he opted to use that as ammunition in his pre-match team-talk.

In a regular article in the progamme, “A View From The Terraces,” it was suggested that if the ‘Candy Stripes’ were to hand-pick a fixture for a quick-fix on the back of their 3-0 loss at Sligo Rovers, then it would be against Russell’s young troops.

“And with the greatest respect in the world to U.C.D., this is probably the game City would have chosen to help put the Sligo defeat behind them,” – claimed the programme piece.

And those comments proved to be the catalyst which apparently served to fire up the students who have clearly taken exception to the now familiar chorus from pundits tipping them for relegation.

“There was a little piece in the programme that buoyed up the lads saying that they felt that if there was ever to be a game that Derry would bounce back from after the Sligo defeat it would be against UCD,” explained Russell after Friday’s game.

“So we noticed that - and let’s just leave it at that,” smiled a delighted UCD boss.

However, the defeat was ultimately down to Derry City’s failure to convert clear-cut scoring chances not to mention a series of defensive errors on the night.

“Lads Pumped Up”

before game

However, to Russell the programme article - which, it must be said was less than inflammatory - and a desire to answer their regular media critics, served to pump up the lads from the Belfield Bowl.

“This league is so tough, it’s so competitive,” continued Russell.

“Although people do write us off every year and, indeed, hope to see us going down, we will always give of our best in an effort to prove them wrong. We’re still in the Premier Division on merit and we continue to retain our place as we have done in previous seasons.

“So I’m absolutely delighted. Irrespective of this result, I was delighted with our performance and the lads’ attitude in the game from start to finish. To get another win at the Brandywell was the icing on the cake.

“It was more a case of an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong rather than look back and reflecting on that 6-0 defeat at the Belfield Bowl.

“That happened quite early on in the current season, so it was about moving on and seeing where the players are now and seeing if they can travel to Brandywell and play and I think they’ve done that.

“When Derry took a 2-1 lead, I just wanted the lads to see the game through, thinking to myself, ‘who knows we might nick one.’

“And then when we got the penalties - and I though both were clear cut penalties from where I was standing - but the fact that we didn’t sit back.

“And to score four goals at Brandywell with the young group we have, was absolutely brilliant. Coming back from being 2-1 down and scoring four goals at the Brandywell it was 90 minutes that the lads can be proud of.”

Third win on spin

Friday’s morale-boosting win - their third win on the bounce after victories over Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians - gave UCD a two points advantage on second from bottom, Bray Wanderers.

And given Friday night’s result, Russell remains confident that he can steer his enthusiastic students clear of the drop zone yet again come November.