STEPHEN KENNY is set to unleash his trio of teenage terrors on the youth of Wexford hot on the heels of Tuesday night's superb League Cup victory over Premier Division side, Galway United this Sunday afternoon. (Kick-off: 2.00 p.m.)
Indeed, the Brandywell boss was particularly impressed with the impact made by James McClean, David McDaid and Patrick McEleney, when they were introduced in the second half against the "Tribesmen," McDaid and McEleney turning a 2-1 deficit in the 77th minute into a 3-2 victory within five minutes!
For Kenny, the emergence of his young players has come as a blessing given the continued absence of strikers Mark Farren and Stephen Parkhouse with Ruairi Harkin, McDaid and the McEleney brothers, Patrick and Shane, netting 10 goals between them in Derry's last three matches.
"I think we've got to continue scoring goals as that gives us great confidence and it's great to see that goals are coming from all areas of the pitch," noted the Derry boss.
"We've attempted to give players greater flexibility this season in an effort to hurt the opposition but we're only able to do that because Barry Molloy gives us the platform to build on that," added the Dubliner.
"He does all the stuff that always seems to go unnoticed off-the-ball and it's his energy and ability which allows the likes of James, Patrick and Ruairi, in particular, to roam forward and attack."
And given that Shelbourne host Cork City Foras tonight and, indeed, with Dermot Keely's side travelling to the Brandywell next Friday night, a victory at Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday would certainly boost confidence levels.
"We can't afford to look beyond this Sunday's game," continued the Derry boss. "This is a totally different type of game and we must prove ourselves yet again. Wexford may not have the pedigree of a Cork or a Shelbourne, but at home they've proved that they are a good team and have secured good results there this season.
"We must show the ability to be consistent, I think that's the key but our application in Wexford must be 100 per cent. We find it so different when playing away from home. Games against Limerick, Waterford and Longford were all really tough battles but that's not always the case at the Brandywell. When away from home, we've got to battle and fight for every ball and, hopefully, we will continue to do that."
Of course, Derry's last visit to Wexford was for the 2008 televised League Cup Final and while that game resulted in a comprehensive 6-1 victory for the "Candy Stripes," Kenny was fully aware that Sunday's game would prove to be totally different.
"In 2008 we had everything to lose in front of the television cameras but we produced a terrific performance to lead 5-1 at half-time. For that match, Wexford put in temporary seating but having watched them play against Monaghan a few weeks ago, that seating has been removed and it's now a bit of a throw-back to years ago.
"There's just one stand, it's quite an open venue and with a 2.00 p.m. kick-off on a Sunday, I think it will resemble a throw-back to years ago. But Wexford are decent at home and they've recorded a number of good results there this season having already held Shelbourne 1-1. They have pace up front and quite a few mobile players, so we'll have to be at our best," claimed Kenny.
With Parkhouse and Farren already ruled out this weekend, Derry's only doubt surrounds the fitness of experienced full-back, Eddie McCallion, who felt his hamstring tighten against Mervue on Tuesday night and he made way for McClean.
"Eddie came off as a precaution so we'll wait and see how he gets on. If we feel that it would be a risk to use him, then he will not be involved."
City enjoy late turnaround
Derry City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Galway United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Meanwhile, while reluctant to spring three teenagers from the bench against Galway in the League Cup on Tuesday night, the move proved particularly positive as Derry City went on to turn what had been a 2-1 deficit into an impressive 3-2 victory with the prize of another home tie against Finn Harps in mid-May adding spice to the victory.
And there can be no doubt, given the quality of the play exhibited by this young and enthusiastic Derry side, that Kenny's hopes of improvement continues to gain momentum with confidence and determination key factors in Tuesday's win.
Amazingly, the Dubliner not only opted to make no fewer than six changes to the team which entertained Mervue United the previous Friday, but he also tinkered with his playing formation throughout the 90 minutes.
Senior personnel such as Mark McChrystal, Kevin Deery and Barry Molloy all watched the game from the stands while James McClean, David McDaid and Patrick McEleney had been relegated to the substitutes bench before entering the fray during the second period.
It should also be noted that Galway, who arrived without a recognised net-minder due to an injury crisis, had been refused permission by the FAI to field another goalkeeper at the eleventh hour with regular left-back, Rhys Meynell, forced to don the No. 1 jersey for the duration of the game. In fact, Sean Connor listed just two substitutes - Stephen O'Donnell and Jayson Molloy.
Galway were also without regulars such as Derek O'Brien, Bobby Ryan, Thomas Heary and Alan Murphy but in a first half which Derry dominated, the home side was deserving of it's 1-0 interval lead.
That goal, which arrived in the 32nd minute, followed a Darren Cassidy corner which saw the ball find the net off the head of central defender, Shane McEleney, his first goal for his home town club.
However, it was Galway who opened the second period much the brighter and their efforts were rewarded with two goals in the space of eight minutes, which stunned the estimated Brandywell attendance of 800.
Galway skipper, Ciaran Foley, found the busy Cian McBrien with a superb pass in the 67th minute and he produced a clinical finish when driving a powerful shot under the body of the advancing keeper, Gerard Doherty.
And while McBrien went close to scoring again five minutes later, his effort screaming just wide of the target, Galway did get a second in the 75th minute following a defensive error.
Emmet Friars' pass back to his keeper fell short and when the alert Karl Sheppard gained possession he drew the attention to two Derry defenders before sliding the ball into the path of the unmarked Anto Flood and he gave Doherty no chance.
But that goal served to spark more urgency into the home lot and in the 77th minute Patrick McEleney and McDaid were introduced at the expense of Adam Clarke and Thomas McBride and that move turned the game on its head.
In fact McDaid scored with his first touch in the 78th minute having been set-up by his fellow substitute before the home side were gifted what appeared a soft penalty three minutes later.
Patrick McEleney side-stepped a challenge to set up a scoring chance but the teenager appeared to lose his footing with the well placed referee pointing to the spot much to the bewilderment of the home defence.
McDaid made an immediate grab for the ball but was fended off by McEleney and he sent Meynell the wrong way when tucking the ball into the far corner.
With Finn Harps having defeated Castlebar Celtic 3-1 in Co. Mayo on the same night, the North-West sides will face each other at the Lone Moor Road venue in the league on Tuesday, May 4th and again at Brandywell one week later on Tuesday, May 11th in the League Cup.
Kenny was delighted with the effort: "We made six changes, so we could expect everything to be free-flowing but I felt we started really well and while we had spells during the game in which we were good, there were also spells when we were not so good.
"But Galway penned us back in the second half. To be fair, they looked like scoring and when they did equalise they grabbed a second minutes later. So with 13 minutes to go and at 2-1 down, we showed great character to battle back and win the match," he said.
"The three players who came on as subs. were again excellent and two of them got the important goals which was great. Credit to the three who came on, they were terrific and it's important that we remember they are all local teenagers who are continuing to improve," noted the Dubliner. "They are confident, they are full of creativity and instinct, they are skilful, talented players and a joy to watch and I think.
"I'm delighted to have won the match and reach the next round. We don't want to lose matches at home, that's very important to us and we can now look forward to another home fixture in the second round against Finn Harps," he concluded.
Derry City – Doherty; McCallion (McClean, 51), Scoltock, S. McEleney, Friars; Clarke (P. McEleney, 77), Harkin, McBride (McDaid, 77), Sharkey, Cassidy; Sweeney. Subs. not used: James Henry and Rory Kelly.
Galway United – Meynell, Conneely, Craney, Foley, Sheppard, King, Curran (Molloy 7), McBrien, Flood, Keady, Keane. Sub. not used O'Donnell.
Referee – Mr. P. McLaughlin (Monaghan).