DERRY CITY boss Kenny Shiels believes his concerns about travelling to Cork and the welfare of his team were justified as ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Munster yesterday afternoon.
Hurricane wind speeds of 190 kilometres an hour rampaged through Turner’s Cross with part of the Derrynane Stand collapsing while the Derry City team were left without electricity in the Rochestown Park Hotel where, Shiels claims, members of staff were advised to go home. A tree also fell on the road outside the Cross as the dangerously high winds devastated the area.
Shiels had let his concerns be known to the FAI when the club were initially told they must fulfil the fixture against Cork City tonight and, despite the damage to the roof of the stand, the RTE 2 televised game is expected to go ahead as planned with a section of the ground closed off to spectators. (K.o. 7.20 p.m.)
Commenting yesterday afternoon from the team hotel which was plunged into darkness, Shiels explained the club was left ‘hamstrung’ and its preparations thrown into turmoil by the FAI’s decision to give the fixture the green light.
Despite the significant structural damage to Turner’s Cross, the FAI were reluctant to call the game off leaving Shiels far from happy after his playing staff were holed up in their Cork city hotel for two-and-a-half days.
“We’re in a situation here where they’ve sent the hotel staff home and there’s no restaurant - the restaurant is closed and the players are starving with hunger,” explained Shiels.
We wouldn’t be in a good shape to play anyway because two-and-a-half days lying about the hotel has killed our preparation. We we don’t know what to do to be honest. The boys are getting frustrated and temperamental.Kenny Shiels
“There’s intermittent loss of electricity and all of those things are handicapping us. We’re a bit hamstrung here.
“We’re a little bit concerned to be honest. To sit in a hotel for two-and-a-half days waiting on a game is not the professional preparation we would have liked.
“We can’t travel obviously and we’re waiting for the electricity to come back on to get something to eat. I’d pay £100 now for a cup of tea - that’s how bad it is!
“We can’t do anything about it. We’re grounded. We certainly won’t be travelling because it would be too risky. I had asked if there was potential for us to travel at 9 a.m. this morning (Monday) to get ahead of it and get home but that was ruled out because the league won’t let us do that.
“I don’t want to be critical because I did say in my earlier talks that I didn’t think the game should be played on Monday and that proved correct.
“In hindsight now it shouldn’t be played on Tuesday either because we have been deprived of the preparation. Everything that can happen this season has happened. We’re just waiting for something crazy happening from now until the end of the season. But I feel sorry for Cork as they’ve lost the roof of their stand.
“We wouldn’t be in a good shape to play anyway because two-and-a-half days lying about the hotel has killed our preparation. We we don’t know what to do to be honest. The boys are getting frustrated and temperamental.
“We got a couple of players out of school to come on this trip for a learning experience and they’ve certainly learned a lot from this. It’s been an eventful year, There are only three games left so hopefully we can get through them.”