DERRY CITY captain, Kevin Deery believes Friday night’s demoralising defeat to Drogheda United will serve as a much needed ‘wake-up call’, claiming the entire squad were ‘hurt’ by the below-par performance at Hunky Dorys Park.
SIMON COLLINS reports
Friday night’s Airtricity League clash should have been an enjoyable experience for the Creggan man who made his first appearance of the season during the final 20 minutes having recovered fully from his knee injury.
However, Deery took to the field facing an uphill struggle following the dismissal of influential midfielder, Barry Molloy and chasing a 1-0 deficit.
The midfielder, alongside goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty led a heated post-match exchange during the warm-down on the Drogheda pitch as the players attempted to dissect what went so badly wrong and he feels there was no excuse for the performance he rates among the worst he’s been involved in.
In fact, Deery drew comparisons with last season’s defeat to Wexford Youths which saw the ‘Candy Stripes’ crash out of the FAI Cup but he has already witnessed a dramatic improvement during training sessions this week.
“It was definitely one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a long time,” said Deery. “And the manner in which we lost that game will be a wake-up call for us all.
“We’ve got to work hard this week in training to put things right. We did a good session on Sunday and we trained well this morning.
“We had a chat after the match on Friday and basically told each other we needed to apply ourselves a bit better. We weren’t great but we’re good enough to respond.
“The only thing you could put it down to is that they wanted to win the match more than us and it showed. It wasn’t through a lack of preparation, they just started the game better and played a way which we found difficult to cope with and we were too easy to play against and they got on top of us.
“Things are sent to try you and we just have to lift ourselves and respond on Friday night against UCD. We can’t keep dwelling on it. Ok we lost the game but we’ll respond in the right way.
“Friday night was probably the most disappointing game I’ve been involved in since Wexford Youths last year, I would put it in the same bracket as that.
“It’s a big learning curve for everyone and sometimes it takes a bad defeat like that to find out what the players are really like, so I’m just hoping we can respond. I know we will because already there has been a bit of reaction the last two days in training.”
Deery refused to elaborate on that post-match exchange between the players but felt that it simply showed how much the players care about the team.
“No one was blaming any individual,” he said. “We had a warm-down together and had a chat about how we thought we could improve.
“We deserved a roasting and we got a roasting after the match that goes without saying once you have a performance like that.
“We know we have to improve in certain areas both on and off the pitch so we’ve got to get three points this week against UCD and once you get another win all the doom and gloom surrounding Friday’s match will be gone.
“The Drogheda match is gone, there’s nothing we can do now so there’s no point dwelling on it.
“Everyone of the players involved were hurt after the game,” he added. “If you weren’t hurt by that performance then you shouldn’t be playing. Sometimes you can’t do anything about it when you’re maybe a little unfortunate and lose but it hurts when you just don’t perform.
“I hope this drives us on now.”
Barry Molloy’s sending off will present a window of opportunity for Deery to get his first start of the season against the Dubliners at Brandywell on Friday night and he’s eager to get back to action.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I only came on for 20 minutes and I was in the middle. I was chasing the game a bit when Barry got sent off but it’ll take me a few games to get fit and everything’s ok injury-wise.
“I’ll train hard this week and with Barry suspended it might open the door that bit quicker for me and I might get a start on Friday. It’s not about any individual and I’m sure whatever teams right for UCD Declan will select it.
“We’re a bit better off than what we were at this stage last year so it’s not all bad. It’s a difficult venue but we’re up-beat this week and ready to train hard.”
Hunky Dorys Park certainly has been a difficult venue for the Brandywell club in recent years and Friday night proved no different as Declan Devine’s troops failed to get the better of a determined Drogheda outfit who were inspired by three siblings – Sean, Ryan and Gavin Brennan.
Despite being dominated for most of the match, Derry almost snatched an unlikely point when Rory Patterson poked wide Mark Farren’s low cross in the 88th minute.
In the end Ryan Brennan’s outstanding first half goal and Brian Gannon’s 90th minute tap-in, after Barry Molloy’s sending off for two yellow cards, was the difference on the scoreboard, but the difference on the pitch was far, far more apparent.
Derry were simply out-classed by a ‘Drogs’ side who have gone from relegation candidates a season ago to an organised, enterprising and ferociously competitive outfit under Mick Cooke.
City barely created a chance of note in the game and were easily nullified by Drogheda, who trebled up on any Derry player taking possession into their half before counter attacking with potency.
And their cutting edge was provided by a triple threat of brothers who at times tore City to shreds. The Brennans – who remarkably have a fourth professional footballing brother in former Derry winger Killian Brennan – were the game’s outstanding players, particularly forward Sean who gave Stewart Greacen a torrid time and set up Drogheda’s opening goal with an outstanding bit of skill.
Drogheda were already getting on top when Sean Brennan seized on a loose ball in the 20th minute before playing an audacious scoop pass into the path of onrushing brother Ryan, who waited for a kindly bounce before smashing it into the far left corner from 15 yards.
Derry’s shell-shocked players were subsequently blown away for the rest of the half as Drogheda dominated. By the half-time whistle, Derry’s best chance had been a Patrick McEleney 30 yard strike which had sailed harmlessly over.
Derry emerged for the restart intent on inflicting a higher tempo on the Meath men and they did fashion a decent chance within three minutes, when a Simon Madden cross was headed wide by the onrushing Molloy.
However, Drogheda were soon on top again and in the 53rd minute Mulvenna should’ve put the ‘Boynesiders’ further ahead but he slid wide from six yards out.
Devine responded by introducing Deery and Owen Morrison for Patrick McEleney and Ruaidhri Higgins but it didn’t stem the tide – and moments later, in the 76th minute, the game was effectively over when Molloy collected his second yellow for pulling back Mulvenna.
At the death, Patterson spurned the chance to give Derry a scarcely deserved point before Drogheda finally sealed the win when Gavin Brennan crossed for Gannon to slide home at the back post.
Derry City (4-4-2): Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney, Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins, Stephen McLaughlin; Rory Patterson, Mark Farren; Subs - Shane McEleney for McBride (23); Kevin Deery for Higgins (73); Owen Morrison for Patrick McEleney (73).
Drogheda United (4-4-2): Gabriel Sava; Stephen Quigley, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Shane Grimes; Brian Gannon, Ryan Brennan, Paul Crowley, Gavin Brennan; Tiernan Mulvenna, Sean Brennan; Subs - Declan O’Brien for Mulvenna (82); Johnny Breen for Sean Brennan (85).
Referee: Graham Kelly.