DERRY City fans who opt not to travel to either the Sligo Showgrounds tonight or, indeed, to Tallaght Stadium next Monday night, can watch the “Candy Stripes” live against with both matches to be televised by RTE and Setanta Sports respectively.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
However, with Derry having to face the current top two teams in the Premier Division ‘live’ on television, did team boss Declan Devine believe the pressure would be on his charges?
“We may have a young team these days but these lads have all played on live television and they relished the challenge.
“The played Linfield in front of the cameras both at Windsor Park and in the Brandywell and they got the required result, so I don’t see this weekend’s games being any different,” he claimed.
Devine did, however, express his worries over the availability of a number of players pointing to the continued presence of covering defender, Eddie McCallion, as a Godsend.
“Eddie has not been playing as a centre-half for the past seven years, yet he stood up to the challenge against UCD and Finn Harps last weekend. So much depended on him last weekend and if certain players are not fit for Friday night’s trip to Sligo, then he will be called in again,” added Devine.
Despite the fact that Derry have a very poor record at the Showgrounds over recent years, Devine refuses to lose heart and believes he has enough within his first team panel to cause the unbeatn “Bit O’Red” no shortage of problems.
“We may have injury worries but I still believe we have enough in the panel to cause Sligo Rovers no shortage or problems.
“We’ve got to be positive and we’re looking forward to the game, particularly because it’s against one of the top teams in the league.”
He was delighted that inspiration captain, Kevin Deery, would lead his troopss at the Showgrounds in the company of Barry Molloy in the centre of the park.
“Kevin came back in against UCD and played well. He got us going and got us playing football and put in a decent performance. Games against the likes of Sligo are Kevin Deery’s type of games and we certainly need him in top form,” declared the team boss.
“He’s one of our leaders and he knows what it takes to get a favourable result in a difficult venue such as Sligo.
Disappointed at his points tally to date, given what were considered poor returns from trips to Shelbourne and Dundalk not to mention last weekend’s share of the spoils at the Brandywell against UCD, Devine held the view that the first series of matches were always going to produce surprise results.
“Drogheda are one of the surprise packages of the Premier Division and I believe Shelbourne will be another side who will cause teams qute a few problems this season. But it’s not until the second phase of games that the teams challenging for the title will break away.
“The first series is all about gathering points and keeping in touch and while I would be the first to admit that I had hoped to be closer to the leaders at this stage, we’re not a million miles away and can only improve.
“But we have hit a glitch with injury problems and I think we’ll have to do without Stewart Greacen until after the mid-season break, so that’s a challenge we really have to overcome.
“More responsibility will now rest on the shoulders of young players such as Shane McEleney and Ryan McBride, but I believe they are capable of producing top class performances.
“Naturally there’s a worry, but we also have a great belief in ourselves and the ability the yonger players have shown this sesaon has been significant.
“Mood within the group is good. We are all confident that our performances will get better and better s the seaso progresses and, hopefully, we can get the results our performances deserve starting in the Sligo Showgrounds on Friday night.
“Make no mistake about it, this will be a very tough match for us but we always seem to rise to the occasion against the more fashionable teams in the league and with Sligo leading the table at the moment and remaining undefeated, then we’d certainly like to be the first to spoil their party,” concluded Devine.
Derry to select from - Doherty, McCallion, McCaffrey, Molloy, S. McEleney, McBride, P. McEleney, Deery, McLaughlin, McGroarty, Farren, McDaid, Patterson, Crossan, Curran and McNamee.