DERRY City may have progressed to the last eight in their efforts to retain the FAI Cup, but Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, refuses to throw in the towel in terms of winning the Premier Division title.
And it was a confident band of “Candy Stripes” that departed the Everglades Hotel yesterday at lunchtime, facing the 600 miles round trip to Cork.
“We may not have performed to the best of our ability against Bluebell United, but we’re in the quarter-finals and that was always the priority,” declared Devine.
“We now focus our attentions on Cork City and a tough match at Turner’s Cross on Friday night. We are travelling with confidence given that our away form this season has been outstanding,” he added.
He dismissed any talk of doom and gloom, insisting that his club had 27 points to compete for with two games against league leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic, the first of which takes place at the Brandywell next Tuesday night.
“We are currently placed fourth in the Premier Division table, one point behind third placed Sligo and eight points behind St. Pat’s,” declared Devine.
“Every club wishes to finish in one of the top four league positions as such a finish usually brings European qualification, but we’re not finished just yet.
“And we will travel to Turner’s Cross in a confident frame of mind, intending to replicate our victory down there last March and that would certainly give us a boost before St. Pat’s arrive at the Brandywell on Tuesday.”
In fact, Derry’s 0-1 victory on Leeside was their first league win in over 10 years at the southern venue and Devine was adamant that his players were “more than capable” of adding another three points to their league tally this weekend.
“We won down there with a very young side and while we may be missing a few bodies this weekend, we are still travelling with a strong panel. We are more than capable of getting another victory and that’s the objective,” he claimed.
“We hit a bit of a blip at the Brandywell over recent weeks, there can be no doubt about that, but we remain in contention with our destiny still in our own hands.
“We intend to keep chipping away, adding points to see where than can take us and I’m still very hopeful that we will climb places in the league table.”
“I’ve no doubt that we will win more games than we will lose between now and the end of the campaign as good players don’t become bad players over night. We’re given top notch performances this season and while we may be a wee bit short on confidence at the moment, I believe another victory in Cork would give us the boost we require to finish the season strongly.”
Stewart Greacen went under the surgeon’s knife on Wednesday having had keyhole surgery on his troublesome knee, the Scot now ruled out of action for at least a month.
Kevin Deery (knee), Thomas Crawley (groin) and Sean Houston (foot) are also ruled out but both Shane McEleney (calf) and Ryan McBride (groin) travelled on the team coach yesterday and both will be tested before the game.
“I’m hopeful that at least one of our central defenders will be declared fit enough to play. If both are available, then I’ll be delighted to push Barry Molloy back into his central midfield role,” concluded Devine.