Derry City manager Declan Devine has said that Friday’s 3-1 win over Shelbourne at Brandywell sets up three big games to end the season.
City scored all three goals in the first half, through a Patterson penalty and a brace from Rafter, and Devine said he’s taken a lot of positives from the performance.
“It means the door is still open for European football and it sets up three big games for us to finish the campaign - Sligo Rovers, St Pat’s and Limerick.
They’re tough, but there was a lot of commitment, effort and focus on the part of the players on Friday night and we’ll build on that.”
City fans now have an active interest in today’s FAI Cup semi-finals.
They’re hoping that Sligo Rovers or Dundalk win the cup, which will mean the fourth-placed team in the Premier - currently Derry City - will qualify for Europe.
Struggling Shelbourne looked very much second best at Brandywell but still gave City some anxious moments, particularly when they pulled back to 2-1 shortly after the half hour.
But City responded immediately through Rafter and it went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half when - they lost their goalkeeper through injury, had Gannon sent off fifteen minutes from the end, and then, in a bizarre episode, had the substituted Bayly sent off from the bench.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, Devine said he was particularly pleased with the performances of some of the younger City players.
“It was good to see Michael Rafter coming up with a couple of goals, Michael Duffy had a couple of chances and I thought Barry McNamee had a good game.”
Shane McEleney was taken off during the first half with a hamstring problem, and Devine said they’d have to see how that developed.
On Kevin Deery’s operation on Wednesday, he said the surgeon was very happy with how it had gone.
See Tuesday’s Derry Journal for further match reports, reaction and full analysis of how Derry City F.C stand after their much-welcomed home win on Friday night past.