DECLAN DEVINE has urged his Derry City team to make their own history and reach the 2019 EA Sports Cup Final to create memories that will 'last a lifetime'.
The cup holders welcome Waterford to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Monday night hoping to keep alive their hopes of winning silverware in the first campaign under the new regime. (Kick-off 7p.m.)
Devine, who won the FAI Cup in 2012 during his last stint in charge, has fond memories of winning the League Cup at Brandywell when assistant to former City boss, Stephen Kenny in September 2006.
The Candy Stripes were down to nine men as David Forde and Killian Brennan were sent off and after a scoreless draw captured the trophy after a dramatic penalty shootout, with Devine's current assistant, Kevin Deery scoring one of the three spot-kicks which earned the nail-biting 3-0 shootout win.
The City boss insists that's one of his abiding memories with the club and he hopes his current squad of players can make memories of their own and for their friends and family by progressing to the 2019 decider.
"My greatest memory is winning the League Cup against Shelbourne with nine men as an assistant to Stephen Kenny," he recalled. "We had two players sent off and ended up winning on penalties.
"So cup finals give you an opportunity to make memories that will last the rest of your life. It doesn't matter if it's the FAI Cup or the League Cup, when you get to finals it gives you, your family and the people surrounding you the opportunity to remember a football match for the rest of your life.
"We want to make those memories and make sure we're at the business end when their handing the trophies out come the end of the season."
The Brandywell club has won the competition a record 11 times and Devine wants to continue that tradition. And with home advantage for the last four tie, it's an opportunity Devine insists they must take with both hands.
"Winning breeds winning. We want to win our first trophy here, of course we do. It's a semi-final but it's still just another game and it's at home where we've been sensational this year. It's an opportunity we must grasp.
"We'll not be judged on whether we win the League Cup or not," he claimed. "We'll be judged on, first and foremost, where we are in the league table and how we do in the FAI Cup and the League Cup and how our performances have been over the course of the season.
"It's not a defining game by any stretch but it's a game we certainly want to win. It's a game where we want to continue our rich history in terms of being successful in this competition."
Despite winning comfortably against Waterford in the league last Monday night, he doesn't expect to have it all his own way in the semi-final. City go into the game on the back of a two game winning run and will start as firm favourites to make it to the first showpiece of the season. And yet Devine expects Alan Reynolds' troops to make it hugely difficult.
"First and foremost we have to get past a Waterford side who will be hurting from last week. It's a Waterford side which will be fresh having had no game on Friday night.
"But we're at a good place in terms of how we're playing, the goals we're scoring and the clean sheets we're keeping. We must look after ourselves, make sure we don't become complacent and don't get carried away with ourselves. If we can do that then we'll be a match for anybody.
"It's another opponent coming into our backyard and we have to make sure we play at the levels we're capable of playing at. When we do, we're a good side."
Waterford boss, Alan Reynolds was present in the stands at the Belfield Bowl as City bounced back from a 1-0 deficit to clinch a 3-1 victory against the Students. And Devine expects the former Derry coach to arrive on Foyleside with a game-plan which will make it as tough as possible for his in-form side.
"I know Alan Reynolds very well," he added. "He's a very good friend of mine and a manager I really respect. He's brought Waterford up from the First Division and qualified for Europe last year albeit they were unfortunate not to compete in the competition.
"He's a manager I know will be very determined to come here tomorrow night and get a result. He'll be hurting after last week but he's also a very cute manager in terms of how he lines his teams out. He has different variations and we'll certainly be in for a tough game.
"It's a long trip up for them but they will come up today (Sunday) and stay in Letterkenny. I know Alan will have them well drilled and organised and will have watched the game back from Friday and last Monday and he'll have a game-plan coming here. It will be difficulty for us.
"We have to understand this game won't be the same as last Monday. It will be completely different game. If you're not as focused, not as driven or determined then it could have consequences.
"The one thing the players have given this year is a real focus and a ability to work hard for each, If we can continue that then hopefully we can have a good end to the season."
Striker, Conor Davis, who netted his first goal for the club against UCD on Friday night, is cup tied for the semi-final clash while Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe continues to struggle with a hip flexor injury. However, Devine doesn't expect to make wholesale changes for the visit of the Blues.