NOTHING short of a victory will suffice against Limerick on Friday night at the Brandywell if Derry City are to have any chance of playing in the Europa League next summer.
But in order to achieve that, Declan Devine must again plan with a lengthy injury list - at least eight first team players not available for selection against the Munster side.
However, the young “Candy Stripes” appear to have grown in confidence following excellent performances in their last two games, therefore, the team boss is preparing for the fixture with confidence.
“We will again be down quite a few but, to be totally honest, the young lads we’ve brought in over recent weeks have certainly risen to the occasion,” smiled the Brandywell boss.
“They have not let us down and I’m happy to go again with what we have,” he added.
Youngster, Conor Barr, who is at university in Belfast had to travel to Dublin by bus on Friday to be included on the substitutes’ bench against St. Pat’s in the company of other youngsters from the club’s Ulster Senior League squad.
“Stewart Greacen, Eoghan Osborne, Kevin Deery, Ruaidhri Higgins, Paddy Kavanagh, Sean Houston, Michael Duffy and Josh Tracey have been ruled out of our final game. Hopefully, Shane McEleney will return after sickness, so the young players will get more game time.
“It’s tough, but against Rovers and Pat’s I can have no complaints and I’m confident they will not let us down against Limerick this Friday night,” he continued.
Devine admitted that he was worried about the Pat’s game last Friday night.
“I feared a St. Pat’s side playing against us with no pressure on them, especially at Inchicore. With no pressure players are not too worried about making mistakes and they can play with a certain freedom which can cause you so many problems.
“But we matched them in the vital areas, particularly in defence and in midfield, and we scored the goal we needed to score to give us a good chance,” noted the team boss.
And Devine agreed that Liam Buckley’s side were worthy winners of the 2013 title. “They haven’t changed too much from the team that started the season but their defensive record has been excellent and that has stood them in good stead.
“For that they deserved to win the league but when you add in the fact that they are also the league’s biggest goalscorers, then there can be no argument and the league table doesn’t lie.”
The Derry boss also claimed that the Dubliners’ defeat in the Aviva Stadium last November, hurt them badly and that memory had driven them on this season.
“There can be no doubt about that,” insisted Devine. “They really were hurt following our victory over them in the FAI Cup Final. It took them quite some time to get over that and I’ve no doubt that they have been constantly reminded of that feeling throughout the season.
“They had a massive supporters’ presence in the Aviva Stadium and their response in the league this season has been excellent.
“They’ve also managed to win very important games as the season drew to a close. Their 1-0 win over us here at the Brandywell when there was absolutely nothing between the sides, is one such victory. A Killian Brennan wonder strike was the difference between the sides.
“Pat’s then went on to defeat Dundalk and they had one hand on the trophy, so I do believe they are worthy winners.”
Looking forward to Friday night’s game Devine confirmed that striker, Rory Patterson, who was called ashore on Friday night, was struggling with fatigue and not injury.
“Rory hadn’t trained much during the previous week. He put in a very good shift at Inchicore when asking to play in an unfamiliar position and he got tired near the end.
“He should be okay to face Limerick who, it must be said, are anxious to finish the season above Cork City. They are one point behind Cork but they would like to finish as the top club in Munster and to do that, they must defeat us, so nothing can be taken for granted against them.”