DECLAN Devine’s Derry City may have cruised through to a Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final clash with Linfield last night but it was the presence of James McClean which clearly lit up the Brandywell Stadium.
Arthur Duffy was at Brandywell Stadium
The Creggan Heights man, who received a surprise call-up into Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland squad yesterday, watched his former team-mates produce a professional performance.
And, if the truth be told, the “Candy Stripes” could and should have won on an even more comprehensive scoreline.
Boasting a healthy 4-0 advantage from the first leg at New Grosvenor 10 days ago, one couldn’t see Lisburn Distillery get back into this tie. So when Patrick McEleney, who again impressed during the opening period, netted a superb strike in the 22nd minute, this tie was finally decided as a contest.
Struggling to make a marked impression, Distillery heads dropped after the break when the home side netted further goals .
Stephen McLaughlin made it 2-0 on 59 minutes while Rory Patterson netted another four minutes later.
Meanwhile, off the pitch McClean’s roller-coaster ride continued with his call-up to the Irish team and while he insisted that he would be taking nothing for granted, he was delighted to have received the text yesterday morning!
“I couldn’t believe it when I read the text, informing me that I had been called into the squad,” he declared.
“It came as a major surprise to me and I’m absolutely delighted to have been called up.
“But I realise this is basically an opportunity, nothing more and I can’t afford to take anything for granted,” he added.
“Naturally I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed that I will get a run-out but, at the same time, I won’t be disappointed if I don’t.
“Meeting the players and getting involved in the international set-up will be brilliant for me. I know some of the players having already met them when playing with Sunderland, so I’ll not be a stranger.
“And with two other lads from Derry also in the squad – Darron Gibson and Shane Duffy – it should make it easier to settle in.”
Considered by many as a possible “wild card” addition to the Irish team for the European Championships, McClean didn’t want to look that far ahead.
“I’ve had a very interesting six or seven months since joining Sunderland. That was a dream come true for me and now, another dream could lie ahead when making my debut for the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s the next step for me but I can’t afford to get carried away. To make my debut, be it against the Czech Republic or at another time, would make that dream come true and that’s all I’m focused on.”
However, while representing the Republic has always been an ambition for the player, his priorities remain at the Stadium of Light.
“That has to be my priority. Things have gone really well for me since I moved to Sunderland in the summer and it’s important that I keep working on that front.
“Holding down my first team place is obviously very important to me, but to make my senior international debut would be absolutely fantastic,” he concluded.
Derry City – Doherty, Madden (McCallion, 74), S. McEleney, McBride (McNamee, h-t), Crossan, P. McEleney, Molloy, Higgins, McLaughlin (Morrison, 64), Patterson, McDaid.
Lisburn Distillery – Brennan, Callaghan, Traynor, Hunter, Thompson, Gawley, Cooling, Gardiner (Larmour, 74), Davidson (Hughes, 60), Garrett (Ferguson, 49) Hall.
Referee – Mr. A. Hunter (Belfast).