BRANDYWELL boss, Stephen Kenny, has no intention of conceding defeat in the race for the 2011 Premier Division Championship despite a poor return from home matches against Drogheda and Bray.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
But having secured just two points from a possible six against teams Derry would have been expected to overcome on home soil, Kenny, while disappointed with the poor return, remained positive and refused to throw in the towel.
Could Derry still win the title?
“Yes, I still believe we have a chance of winning the league, but we’ve got to take advantage of any slip-ups in the weeks ahead. Even a drawn game for either of the two ‘Rovers,’ Shamrock or Sligo, could let us back into it,” he answered.
“If Sligo Rovers or Shamrock Rovers manage to win their remaining matches, then they will have deserved to win the title and we will congratulate them,” added Kenny.
“But it’s not as simple as that and, from our point of view, it’s vital that we remain in a position to take advantage of any slips which may occur, so it’s important that we remain positive as we prepare to travel to Dundalk.”
The 2-2 and 1-1 results at the Brandywell over the past fortnight saw the “Candy Stripes” knocked off the summit and now lying four points behind the joint leaders, the initiative having now been passed to the Showgrounds and Tallaght.
Indeed, Sligo’s seven goals demolition of Galway on Saturday was followed by the “Hoops” comprehensive 4-0 defeat of Drogheda as the title race enters the final straight.
Kenny, however, refused to concede any ground and maintained his playing staff would remain positive as they prepare to face the final five matches.
“While we are certainly not happy at recent results at home, we’ve still managed to extend our undefeated record to 18 matches. In fact, our last defeat dates back to May at Oriel Park and that’s our next challenge this Saturday afternoon,” noted the Dubliner.
“Unfortunately, we’ve drawn two games we had been expected to win and, there’s no doubt, those results have hurt us somewhat. But it’s also important to note that our players have shown the ability to get back into such games having conceded goals.
“Earlier in the season, we managed to get the break when scoring first and while that’s also important, it’s good to note that we’ve shown character and refused to allow our heads to drop in such situations. I’ve never claimed that we are perfect, but this team is evolving and improving with every game.
“We will remain positive - as we have done all season - the players have done really given our first season back playing at this level, but all is not yet lost,” insisted Kenny.
“I think we’ve surprised quite a few pundits with not only our results but also our performances and I would expect the players to remain focused and committed as the season is not yet over.
“While I believe we can still win the league title, we still have to earn the right to secure a place in Europe next season first and foremost and while that would be an achievement in itself, we’re not conceding defeat in the title race.”
Meanwhile, Derry City will travel to Ferney Park in Fermanagh tonight (Tuesday) to face Irish League Championship side, Ballinamallard United, in a friendly fixture (8.00 p.m.)
Kenny, who requested the match, believes that quite a few of his players require games to achieve match fitness and he will travel with a strong side.
Players such as Eugene Ferry, Shane McEleney, Ruairi Harkin, Mark Farren, Owen Morrison and David McDaid will be involved in the panel as the “Candy Stripes” now have a few injury problems with both Eddie McCallion (calf) and Ryan McBride (groin) having to limp off during Friday night’s game against Bray.
“Due to the fact that we do not have any ‘A’ Championship games, quite a few of our players require games and, thankfully, Ballinamallard have accepted our proposal of a match on Tuesday night,” concluded Kenny.
And while both mMCallion and McBride are expected to be absent for Saturday’s trip to Dundalk, Derry will welcome back the return of the versatile Barry Molloy and Shane McEleney from suspension.