BARRY McNamee has developed an uncanny affinity with St. Patrick’s Athletic . . . the team Derry City face in this Sunday’s Ford F.A.I. Cup Final in the Aviva Stadium!
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And the talented 20-year-old Ramelton man (on right) harbours mixed emotions when mention is made of the Inchicore based “Super-Saints.”
The midfielder actually made his senior debut against the Dubliners in Richmond Park on September 3rd last in a match in which he openly admits failing to make a significant impression as the “Candy Stripes” struggled before losing 3-0.
As a result, that performance saw him slip back down the Derry City pecking order, but following another call-up a few weeks ago, McNamee hasn’t looked back since.
In fact, he was thrown in again when presented with another starting berth against St. Pat’s at the Brandywell in Derry’s final game at the Brandywell last Friday night week when operating in an offensive midfield position and it would appear that the now confident McNamee has played his way into this weekend’s cup final panel.
Leading 1-0 at the break after the ‘Foylesiders’ had produced a magnificent first half performance, the Donegal lad found David McDaid with an incisive pass and the striker netted his 17th goal of the season as Derry secured a confidence boosting 2-1 victory.
No real surprise then, that McNamee will be “suited and booted” as the “Candy Stripes” continue their preparations for this Sunday’s showpiece in the magnificent Dublin south-side venue.
Articulate, modest and polite, the player has indeed enjoyed a superb rollercoaster ride over the past seven weeks having finally established himself in the Derry City first team panel.
And while he would dearly love to stride out onto the big Aviva pitch as part of the starting XI, any involvement in the travelling party would be acceptable his insists.
“There are still a few training sessions left before the final, so I believe everyone still had a chance of getting into the starting line-up,” maintained the Donegal man.
“So much depends on the training but at the end of the day it ‘s all down to the manager and what system he decides to play in the final.”
Delighted to be involved in the preparation for the final, McNamee has not lost sight of the fact that seven weeks ago he wasn’t even figuring in Declan Devine’s plans, an injury crisis presenting him with a perfect window of opportunity.
“I wasn’t figuring at all in the manager’s plans before I made my debut against St. Pat’s earlier this season. We lost that match and I wasn’t called upon afterwards.
“But then I was called up again a few weeks ago and I’ve been in the team ever since which has been brilliant.
“To be involved in the FAI Cup Final squad and play against St. Pat’s for the third time this season would prove to be the greatest achievement of my career to date,” continued the player.
“Up to several weeks ago, I wasn’t even on the manager’s radar but to have a chance of playing in the cup final is amazing and I still haven’t taken it all in.
“To be involved in the Derry panel would be great and I’ve no doubt the FAI Cup Final would be a fantastic game to be involved in,” he declared.
Must turn up on day
But can Derry City win this trophy for the fifth time in their history?
“St. Pat’s are a very good side as they have proved in the league. They’ve already qualified for Europe next season and they will probably be considered the favourites to win it,” he claimed.
“However, I think we proved that we are more than capable of beating them and cup finals are all about which team shows up on the day.
“Our recent win in the Brandywell will have no bearing on what happens in the cup final, but I feel it was can play to our capabilities, then I’ve no doubt Derry City can win it,” he concluded.