Derry City skipper Eoin Toal aiming for North West derby win over Finn Harps

Defender Eoin Toal believes Friday night's North West derby at home to Finn Harps, is just another massive game for Derry City.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 3:29 pm

The City captain, speaking after Monday evening's 2-1 loss at Sligo Rovers, feels every game is massive for the club and the encounter against the Donegal men is no different.

"Every game is the biggest game of the season," he insisted. "But we're taking one game at a time, however we know that this Friday night is going to be massive and we'll be going into the game firing on all cylinders and hopefully we can get the three points.

"Friday night's game is massive, to be fair the North West derby is always a big one. We're at home, so the crowd, who have been brilliant all year for us, will be behind us, so as I said we just need to stick together as a group but I know we will because we're a very tight group and are all very good friends."

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Derry City's Eoin Toal brings the ball out from the back against Sligo Rovers on Monday night. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The Armagh native can't quite put his finger on why the Brandywell men have had a dip and certainly doesn't feel that it's because the players are tired or anything like that.

"We're all professional footballers, we all train full-time, we get the right recovery and eat the right food, so there's really no excuses," he explained. "All over the world teams are playing Saturday/Tuesday throughout the leagues and they have a three day break.

"Look, if you look at those teams in England, they are playing 60/70 games a year. Yes we have been unlucky with injuries but that gives someone else the opportunity to step in and take the spot, but look tonight it just wasn't our night.

"We should have seen the game out, but it wasn't our night. Now we need to stick together and get ready for Friday now.

"We didn't play well, but we must stick together because there's a big game on Friday and the North West derby is always tough."

The Candy Stripes suffered their third defeat in a row at the Sligo Showgrounds and the big centre-back agreed with boss Ruaidhrí Higgins, that the performance wasn't good enough and they should have defended Seamus Keogh's stoppage time winner better, especially as goalkeeper Brian Maher had made a big save to deny the match winner just some 30 seconds before the winning strike.

"It was definitely our worst performance of the season, we didn't come out in the first half at all," he added. "They went 1-0 up and rightly so, as we didn't come out of the blocks and we were second to every ball.

"Jamie (McGonigle) has done brilliant to get us back into the game and we really had belief in the changing room at half-time to go on and win the game but I thought in the second half, while we weren't great, we were probably the better side, yes they had more chances and although Jamie has a chance to put us 2-1 up, which didn't go in, but the result is gutting.

"I can't really put my finger on why we didn't get started at Sligo. All the lads get on well together, we have a tight group but for one thing or another we just didn't get going. They went 1-0 up from a set piece, which we should do better from, but as I said we still put ourselves in with a good opportunity to win the game at half-time, but unfortunately we just didn't take it and they scored with the last kick of the game.

"Brian did brilliantly to make a great save just before their winner and that should have been our wake up call but we still conceded. We wouldn't have been happy with the draw but sometimes whenever it's not your night you need to see it out and unfortunately we didn't.

"We knew that Sligo were going to come out firing tonight, as they did and they were good. In the first half we didn't match them, lucky we were level at half-time but we didn't capitalise on Jamie's goal and I know we had a few chances in the second half but we just didn't take them and tonight just wasn't good enough.

"If we had seen the game out as a draw, which as I said we still wouldn't have been happy with because we want to win football matches, it would have been better than losing the game."

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