FORMER Brandywell favourite Ger O’Brien, rejects suggestions the ‘league table never lies,’ particularly when referring to Derry City!
The talented full-back is refusing to take anything for granted despite his side’s victories at Richmond Park (5-2) and in the Brandywell (0-1) this season.
St. Pat’s finished the season in third spot and while they may have cruised into the FAI Cup Final, they have already qualified for their place in the Europa League next season.
Derry, on the other hand, completed the season inconsistently when finishing in eighth spot despite most pundits having initially pointed to a place in the top four.
However, having enjoyed a good spell at the Brandywell, the Dubliner is well aware of Derry’s strengths and weaknesses and he holds Brandywell boss, Peter Hutton, in high regard.
“Derry City arrived at Inichicore just after Roddy Collins had left the club and I think Peter was just in the door, so we might have caught them cold that night,” suggested O’Brien.
“That said, we played very well in that game and scored a lot of goals (5-2). Up in the Brandywell we scored at the beginning of the second half, but we had to defend really well as Derry really came onto us and we managed to hold out.
“So we know their strengths and while they say the league table never lies, I think that’s false in the case of Derry City, especially when you consider the start they had,” noted the right-back.
“Peter hasn’t got the biggest squad in the league, so I think he has had to manage more for the FAI Cup than anything else and we certainly won’t be under-estimating them.
“We are fully aware of the type of quality Derry have in their team and we’re expecting a very tough game on Sunday,” he insisted.
Added Motivation Given 2012 Defeat To Derry?
Does O’Brien believe his team-mates will have added motivation, given that Pat’s lost out to Derry in 2006 and, more importantly, in 2012?
“I wouldn’t say it’s added motivation. You are in a cup final and you want to win the game and that attitude will remain for both sets of players this weekend.
“In fact, I remember standing watching Derry lifting the trophy in 2012 and it’s certainly not a nice feeling, despite the fact that I have a lot of time for the club.
“After all, you just don’t know how many cup finals you are going to get to. If you play for 17 years, you’ve 17 cracks at it and they go by very quickly. We’re now in a position whereby we can re-write two years ago.
“We are totally focused on the game and the way we’re going to play. We look at our strengths and look at Derry’s strengths - and their weaknesses - and we prepare properly.
“But once we cross that white line we must switch on and try to play football,” answered O’Brien.
Just like the “Candy Stripes,” St. Pat’s will also enjoy the big pitch and will again relish the thought of taking advantage of the wide open spaces in the magnificent Aviva Stadium.
“The big pitch suits us as well. We like to play with a lot of width, move the ball about and try to make teams work. If it all falls into place on Sunday, it will suit us down to the ground.
“Liam (Buckley) will have us well drilled, as I’m sure Peter will have Derry, and I really do think it will be a cracking game.”
“We’re Good To Go”
Insists Liam Buckley
St. Pat’s boss, Liam Buckley, heaped praise on his charges following their strong finish to the season and the 4-1 victory over Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds had, he felt, capped a decent season.
“They’re ready,” declared the St. Pat’s boss when publicly announcing his pleasure after the performance in the Showgrounds.
“We put out a strong team with three things I wanted out of the game - to win the game, give a good performance and pick up no injuries. We got all three,” he said.
And when questioned on that much talked about 53-year wait despite having played in eight finals since then, Buckley dismissed that as a motivating factor.
“That’s not a motivating factor once you get over the white line,” said Buckley on the long wait. “Although losing out to Derry in the final two years ago is.
“It’s still in my mind.
“I remember saying to the players afterwards ‘these are occasions when, while it’s disappointing, it’s all part and parcel of being a sportsman, not everybody can be a winner every time!’
“I heard Roy Keane speak about the fear factor of losing. Winning only stays with you for a short time. When you lose you can reflect back on it (more).
“So hopefully we push on on Sunday and give a good performance. If we do, and with a bit of luck, we should get it over the line,” suggested the Dubliner.