KENNY Shiels believes Derry City’s qualification for Europe this season will be nothing short of a ‘miracle’, should they finish the job at Brandywell Stadium tonight.
The ‘Candy Stripes’ need just one more victory to secure their place in the UEFA Europa League next season and Shiels believes his players need no extra motivation going into tonight’s clash against Bohemians. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
It will be the first time the Brandywell club has qualified for Europe through its league position since 2013 when Sligo Rovers’ FAI Cup win meant fifth placed, Derry City were handed the final Europa League qualifier spot.
Victory against the ‘Gypsies’ tonight will mean fourth placed is guaranteed but Shiels is determined to take third ahead of Shamrock Rovers - an achievement he believes is no more than they deserve.
Given Shiels has had to plan without both his regular centre backs, skipper, Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry, for the best part of three months, it certainly will be no mean feat.
And the Derry manager is proud his players have got to within touching distance of European football following two seasons where they’ve battled at the wrong end of the table.
If you had told me in July when we lost our two centre backs that we would get to within one victory of Europe, I really would have bitten your hand off to get it.Kenny Shiels
“It’s been a miracle,” said Shiels. “If you had told me in July when we lost our two centre backs that we would get to within one victory of Europe, I really would have bitten your hand off to get it. Under our circumstances I think we’ve dealt with it really, really well.
“Tomorrow night we’re in the position where, if we win the game, we’re in Europe. That is a massive incentive for our supporters and for us. Win and we’re in Europe!”, he added. “If we can get into to Europe then we have a lot of things to look forward to.
“I think it’s a huge achievement and it’s a collective effort from the staff and players.
The progress we’ve made this season has been very, very good and I want to continue that next season.”