GERARD Doherty is using the pain felt after the thrashing by Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght back in March as motivation ahead of tonight’s sold-out clash at Brandywell.
That 6-1 defeat is still fresh in the mind of the City skipper who admits the ‘embarrassing’ result, which humbled the Candy Stripes, still hurts.
In fact the experienced former Derby County keeper rates the loss in south Dublin as one the worst beatings he’s had during his lengthy football career.
It’s not about revenge or restoring pride, insists the Creggan man, but about continuing the club’s impressive unbeaten run which was sparked by that heavy loss to the Hoops.
“In the back of our minds we will be thinking about the defeat down there but it’s not a revenge thing coming into the game,” said the City keeper.
“It’s more about looking at that game for motivation. That was a tough defeat. It was probably one of the worst defeats I’ve taken in my whole career and it hurt bad and still hurts.
We let ourselves down and let everybody down at the time. Now you appreciate the wee runs you go on because in the back of my mind you’re only one bad game away from getting criticism.Gerard Doherty
“At the time it was probably a bit of everything. Embarrassment, shock and so much disappointment.
“But it led us on a good path which is strange to think. Everybody at the club, after the last time we played Rovers had a good look at themselves, myself included.
“To be fair we’ve come out the other side. We take our motivation from trying to keep the run going and individually play well and as a team keep doing what we’re doing.”
So, after lots of soul-searching and finger-pointing, what does Doherty think has changed so dramatically since that humiliating defeat to Rovers which sparked a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.
“We let ourselves down and let everybody down at the time. Now you appreciate the wee runs you go on because in the back of my mind you’re only one bad game away from getting criticism. It’s amazing how people’s opinions can change overnight in football.
“It’s a happy camp at the minute and I suppose that goes hand in hand with winning and doing well.
“Chatting to a number of players in training, they actually telling me they’re learning the game a bit more. The younger boys who have come in and maybe not thought about their individual role as much.
“Now they’re taking things on board and that’s a good thing.
“We came back from that bad defeat and learned from our mistakes which is all you can ask of the players - to give 100 per cent and learn from mistakes.
“Even the Pat’s game, last year we would’ve lost that. Maybe last year we would’ve lost the Dundalk game going behind twice but boys are learning from their mistakes which is the pleasing thing for me.
“Myself included. I learned so much myself after that Rovers match. It was tough and difficult to put into words but I did a lot of soul-searching and we got together as a group and we stuck together.”
Who would’ve predicted after that 6-1 loss that Derry City would be five points clear of Rovers with two games in hand just eight games later?
Although Rovers boss, Stephen Bradley is under pressure going into tonight’s match after five games without a win, Doherty reckons it would be foolish to underestimate the Dubliners.
“We’re under no illusions as to how hard this game is going to be.
“We all know they’ve been through a bit of a sticky patch but every team in the league is just one result away from starting on a bad patch. We don’t want to go that way because we’ve already been there.
“It’s a dangerous situation as Rovers are looking towards a hard game in Derry and may feel like they’ve nothing to lose. There’s no pressure on them, it’s all on us. And you have to have big enough shoulders to carry the pressure.
“It’s not like we’re going to go unbeaten but we’ll go out and try our best to make sure it doesn’t happen tomorrow night.”