Kevin Deery launched a thinly-veiled attack on a section of Derry City supporters after the players exited the Brandywell pitch at half-time on Sunday to a chorus of boos.
SIMON COLLINS was at Brandywell Stadium
Photos: LORCAN DOHERTY
As the ‘Candy Stripes’ trudged into the changing rooms at the interval facing a 0-1 deficit against Shelbourne, the road to the Aviva Stadium appeared long and unlikely.
And as sections of the Derry support sensed an imminent and abrupt end to the season they booed their team off the pitch after a stagnate first half performance much to the amazement of the Derry players.
However that reaction propelled the home side into action in the second half and once David McDaid cancelled out Shels’ captain, David Cassidy’s 5th minute opener, Derry appeared the likeliest to claim victory.
In the end it was probably a fair result and one that ultimately prolonged the Brandywell club’s season, however, Deery was disappointed some of the home support opted to vent their frustrations at the team with the game still in the balance.
“It was a bad start to the game and we gave away a sloppy goal but I don’t think you could argue that we didn’t compete or didn’t show effort and commitment,” said the Derry captain.
“We were going in 1-0 down at half-time and showed great character in the second half but the disappointing thing was to be booed off at half-time.
“I love the Derry fans, I’ve been here 10 years but to be booed off at half-time in the semi-final of the cup is disappointing.
“There was no one here at the game on Tuesday night and that reaction at half-time left us a bit deflated. But we went out and showed that we have a bit about us and we came back. It was a slow start but there was very little in the game.
“It’s just strange,” he continued. “I’ve never known the fans to be like that before. Normally the Derry fans get behind you for 90 minutes so it was just disappointing and I was a wee bit taken back by it to be honest.
“It’s been a frustrating season for everyone but we’re still in the semi-final of the cup. It wasn’t a league game so I can’t understand that reaction.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up. We were very good in the second half and we’ve got to take that positivity into the game at Tolka Park on Wednesday night.”
Tolka Park was the scene of Derry City’s third FAI Cup triumph in 2002 and Deery is hoping that memorable day at the North Dublin venue will prove a good omen ahead of tomorrow night’s semi-final replay.
Liam Coyle’s solitary strike against Shamrock Rovers was enough for the ‘Candy Stripes’ to lift the famous trophy on that occasion - the last time an FAI Cup Final was staged at Tolka Park.
And having salvaged a second shot at reaching the 2012 showpiece, Deery is confident the Drumcondra stadium will once again be a happy hunting ground.
But to achieve that the ‘Candy Stripes’ will need a marked improvement from Sunday’s stagnate performance against Shelbourne, particularly their first half showing where they showed little creativity in the final third against the visitors who weren’t much better in that department.
The Brandywell club’s hopes of reaching the FAI Ford Cup Final against St Patrick’s Athletic are still alive and well, however, and Deery dismissed suggestions that Shels have gained the upper hand having taken the tie to a replay on home soil.
“I remember the final in 2002 at Tolka Park and Liam Coyle scored the winner so maybe that’s a good omen for us,” said Deery.
“We have some good memories of playing in the FAI Cup at Tolka Park so hopefully we can progress to the final with a win down there on Wednesday.
“We’ll go there knowing that we won down there about five or six weeks ago, we won 0-2 in the league, so there’s still everything to play for.”
Shock Team Selection
Derry boss, Declan Devine defended his team selection in his post-match interview but his gamble to start Rory Patterson (right) who returned after an absence of 16 weeks and Stephen McLaughlin who had completed his first training session in three weeks the previous Friday, failed to have the desired effect.
Both players were admittingly far from their best while Barry Molloy’s troublesome hip flexor problem restricted his impact on the game in the latter stages.
When asked if he felt the gamble on playing Rory Patterson had worked, Devine said he was happy with the player’s performance.
“He hasn’t played for 18 weeks, so we knew we would get an hour out of him. He got through it okay and that will stand him in good stead for Wednesday. Rory is our No. 1 striker and we’re happy with him, he worked hard and did what was expected of him.”
Whether it was down to a lack of match sharpness or simply nerves, Derry got off to the worst possible start when they were caught sleeping after just five minutes and the visitors stunned the attendance with the opening goal.
Prior to kick-off Devine insisted his defence was the key to victory and it was soft goal to concede as a deflected pass found its way into the path of David Cassidy on the left wing and the Shels captain raced forward to find himself in a one-on-one situation with keeper, Gerard Doherty, before the winger finished with aplomb.
And while Derry attempted to step up a gear, efforts from Patterson, Stewart Greacen and Deery all failed to trouble Shels keeper, Chris Bennion as the visitors held their slender lead at the break.
After the interval the home side had the ball into the net in the 48th minute when Greacen appeared to have forced the ball over the line but referee, Damien Hancock correctly ruled the effort out for a foul on keeper, Bennion.
Derry continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and they reaped handsome dividends in the 57th minute.
Left back, Dermot McCaffrey floated a high ball over the Shels’ defence and the alert McDaid raced through unmarked to get his head to the cross and divert the ball home off the upright for his eighth goal in 10 games.
That goal clearly lifted the spirits of the home attendance and with their tails now up, Derry continued to push forward forcing Shelbourne onto the back foot.
In the 74th minute a superb run down the left by substitute, Barry McNamee, spelt danger for Shels but the youngster opted to try to play in McDaid when going it alone may have been a better option.
Four minutes later a superb shot on the volley from Simon Madden from 25 yards brought the best out of Bennion, the Shels keeper making a magnificent save when diverting the ball over his crossbar at the expense of a corner.
Although disappointed not to have gone on and won the contest at the first attempt, Devine remains confident his side can claim victory at Tolka having already secured a 0-2 league win at the venue last August.
“I was very disappointing at conceding the goal, but I always felt we had it in us to respond and I think we showed our character after the break,” said Devine. “After netting an equaliser I felt we could push on and win the semi-final at the first attempt and but for a terrific save by their keeper from Simon Madden’s volley, I felt would have won the game.
“But it’s all about staying in the cup and we’ve managed to do that after falling behind. We now face a replay and I’ve no doubt we will give a good account of ourselves as we have enjoyed very good form on the road this year. We’ve also won at Tolka on our last visit, so we’ll travel with confidence on Wednesday and we’re certainly not out of it just yet.”
Derry City – Doherty; Madden, Greacen, S. McEleney, McCaffrey; P. McEleney, Deery, Molloy, McLaughlin (Farren, 84); McDaid (Brolly, 93), Patterson (McNamee, 70).
Shelbourne – Bennion; Ryan (Shortall, 95), Paisley, Boyle, S. Byrne; Kavanagh, Cronin, Dawson, Cassidy (C. Byrne, 77); P. Byrne, Hughes (Gorman, 61).
Referee – Mr. D. Hancock (Dublin).