A delighted Declan Devine pointed to a tactical switch which turned Wednesday night’s replay in favour of his charges.
Describing Patrick McEleney as a “match winner,” the Derry boss felt the versatile midfielder’s superb shot, which crashed off the Shelbourne crossbar, signalled a statement of intent as his side attempted to put Sunday’s poor performance to bed.
“We opted to move Patrick into a central role with Barry McNamee moving to the left wing and Stephen McLaughlin switching to the right,” claimed Devine.
“That move worked a treat for us and when Patrick broke from the middle of the park and hit the crossbar, that was a defining moment and Shelbourne began to appear nervous,” insisted the Derry boss.
“We never looked back following that switch but the players had worked tremendously hard on the night and we managed nullify those individual mistakes which we had been making throughout the season.”
Devine felt Derry started to command the proceedings but he agreed that a 44th minute goal, against the run of play, would serve to prove crucial prior to the second half.
“But we knew one goal would not be enough, we felt we needed a second and, thankfully, Stephen did the business yet again proving that he continues to be a superb scoring option for us. He produced an outstanding strike just after the hour and as we continued to take the game to them, Davy McDaid ended the match as a contest and our game plan had worked out very well.”
With Rory Patterson relegated to the bench and Barry McNamee forming part of the five-man midfield, Devine felt Derry needed to change their system when playing in Tolka Park.
“On Sunday at the Brandywell, we felt we could hurt them by playing a 4-4-2 formation with Rory and Davy up top. But we also needed our two wide players to get forward. However, their goal after four minutes knocked the stuffing out of us. Our players started to feel the pressure and they under-performed in that first half.
“The reality of the situation was that the plan failed to work. We knew Rory would give us an hour, but he didn’t receive the necessary service and we struggled on that front. I made the decision to put him in and while he was lacking match sharpness, I felt we would get rewards with his high when facing defenders such as Paisley and Boyle.
“But travelling to Tolka meant a different system due to the pitch and the stadium itself. At Tolka it’s so important to be able to retain possession of the ball and be patient in our build-up play. We were always solid across the middle of the park which was important and while they had periods of pressure in the first half, we defended well and took our chances when they arrived.
“And it was always nice to be able to throw a surprise or two at them. It was very pleasing result and I was very encouraged with the performance,” he concluded.