DECLAN DEVINE has challenged his players to prove him right and show that Derry City is the third best team in the League of Ireland.
Ten months of hard graft boils down to just 180 minutes of football over the next four days, starting tonight as European rivals, St Patrick’s Athletic arrive in Brandwell for a crunch Euro showdown. (K.o 7.45p.m.).
City boss, Devine isn’t prepared to settle with just the single point which would guarantee the club’s return to the Europa League next year and has targeted six which could see them leapfrog Bohemians into third place.
”Potentially we could be in Europe after 90 minutes but ultimately we’re not looking at that,” insisted Devine. “We’re looking at trying to catch Bohemians. That’s what the goal is and that’s what we have to try and do.
“We haven’t looked down the table all year. We haven’t looked at anybody over our shoulders. We’ve always strived to catch the team above us.”
It’s already considered a hugely successful season given the stark transformation from last year but Devine believes his side deserve to finish the season in third.
“In terms of what we started out with and the feeling around the club on the first day, it wasn’t in a very positive place,” he reflected.
“Everybody, from the Chairman to the youngest supporter and oldest supporter, everybody has really invested a lot this year and it would be brilliant if we could get over the line.
“We have the last match of the season which is a North West derby at the Brandywell and we have to make sure we leave our fans with good memories over the next four or five days.
“I honestly believe we deserve to finish in third,” he said.
“I’m not making this about us and Bohs. The difference with Bohs is they’ve beat the top two. We haven’t beaten the top three this year so I know, on reflection, we’ve got work to do.
“However, my personal opinion is we’ve been the third best team this year in the league but that’s just my opinion in terms of the process we’ve had to undertake, the difficulties that we’ve faced.
“I do feel we’ve been the third best club but at the same time I know why people would say we’re not because we have to beat the top three and that is ultimately what we have to strive to do next season.
“I just think if we can get over the line it would be something special for the players, their families and our supporters. It will be the result of a magnificent effort.
“Ultimately I want to win two matches and for our players to sign off the season in front of our fans in a real positive frame of mind.
“I want us to get goals, I want us to get clean sheets but I want us to stamp our authority all over this week. If we can do that then we will reflect on a really good season.”all season, out for one more week.”