STEPHEN KENNY will leave nothing to chance having opted to deploy his “big guns” in tomorrow night’s EA Sports League Cup showdown with Cork City at Turner’s Cross. (Kick-off: 6.00 p.m.)
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Earlier victories over Salthill Devon, U.C.D. and Sligo Rovers had been fashioned mainly by teams made up of squad players and his “A” Championship personnel, but the prize of E10,000 plus entry into next season’s Setanta Sports Cup appears to have influenced the team selection of the Brandywell boss.
Add in the fact that the Turner’s Cross final will be played in front of the Setanta Sports television cameras, not to mention the presence of a partisan crowd - expected to number in the region of 4,000 - Kenny will opt for experience.
For regular left-back, Danny Lafferty, it will be a case of mixed emotions, the Carnhill man having sacrificed himself in the semi-final against Sligo Rovers so that Derry would reach this stage.
But his absence has opened a window of opportunity for Emmet Friars who will return to the starting XI. Kenny does have a few injury worries with fellow defenders, Shane McEleney nursing an ankle injury and Eddie McCallion experiencing a “tight calf.”
Owen Morrison will remain on the sidelines, the winger having torn a calf muscle in training a few weeks ago.
Confirming that Friars would start the game, Kenny also pointed to other players such as Ryan McBride and David McDaid who, he said, had made significant contributions already this season with both “having done nothing wrong,” particularly in recent matches.
“Our record in Cork has not been impressive,” noted the Dubliner. “So the final will prove to be a difficult game for us as I firmly believe that Cork City are a Premier Division team with Premier Division players. Yes, they have a bit to do to get back up, but they have a quality squad and we must respect that,” he insisted.
“That said, this season we have lost just three league games; the players have been fantastic and, for us, the League Cup competition has been important. We have used this competition to blood our younger players and quite a few of them have taken advantage of the opportunity to progress.
“Thomas McMonagle and James Henry have been added to the travelling squad as have David McDaid and Ryan McBride. David scored the winner for us against U.C.D., he then netted a hat-trick in our friendly against Institute before scoring a superb goal in the ‘A’ Championship final, also against UCD. He’s in form and is a strong contender to be involved.
“Ryan has done nothing wrong to be left out of the first team and he has played in every League Cup game and he’s been impressive, therefore, he is also a strong contender be included,” admitted Kenny.
Suggesting that he expected the match to be an “open affair” played on a superb surface, Kenny refused to take anything for granted.
“It’s a cup final - the first of the three domestic trophies - and now that we’re there, we must believe we can win in Turner’s Cross. It will be big day for quite a few of the players, but we must rise to the occasion, work extremely hard in front of a large Cork crowd and do everything in our power to bring the trophy home with us on Saturday night.
“Kevin Deery was not on the pitch in Monaghan when we won the First Division title last year, so I think it will be nice to see our captain lead us out and, hopefully, raise the trophy at the end for the effort he has put in and the contribution he has made this season. That would be a great experience for him as a player and that’s our ambition,” concluded the Brandywell boss.
Local Radio Coverage
Meanwhile, tonight’s game will be covered ‘live’ by both BBC Radio Foyle (792 Medium Wave) and Drive 105. Foyle’s Eric White will be joined by former Cork City striker, John Caulfield as match analyst, while Drive 105’s Kevin McDaid will lead the “Drive” commentary team.