SUNDAY’S ‘man of the match’, Derry City striker, Rory Patterson, was devastated when learning that he would not be starting Sunday’s F.A.I. Cup final in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And given that he had worked particularly hard to return to full fitness over a period of three months having torn his hamstring, he felt his record in cup finals would have assisted his claims.
However, when the starting XI was announced in the Crowne Plaza Hotel during the team meeting on Saturday night, Patterson was stunned.
“I was devastated that I was not selected in the starting line-up, when the team was announced,” said the Strabane man who netted two vital goals in the final to defeat St. Patrick’s Athletic.
“Not only had I worked really hard to get back to full fitness over a period of three months, I always put myself forward even if carrying an injury to assist the team.
“Obviously I got a game against Shamrock Rovers and while I was suspended for the St. Pat’s match, I felt good about myself and I had hoped I would be involved from the start, but that was not to be.”
And while he dimissed suggestions that he went out of his way to celebrate his winning goal having raced past the Derry dugout, the 28-year-old was delighted to have continued his record in big finals.
“I think my record shows that I can turn up in finals and I’ve showed that I’m capable of scoring goals in such finals so, yes, I was disappointed at not being included from the start of the game.
“I had been on the pitch 10 minutes as a substitute when we won the penalty and as the pentalty taker in the team, I immediately stepped up to take it.
“Having put us in the lead from the penalty spot, I was very happy and, at that stage, felt it could end up being the winning goal which would have made it very special.
“But they equalised with just minutes to go and that made it all the more difficult for us. However, to have put us back in front again during extra-time, I felt that would be the winning goal and I was absolutely delighted to have scored it. It made it all the more sweeter.
“But I felt the team showed showed great character to bounce back after they equalised so late in the game and with both teams knacker during extra-time, the game could have gone either way.
“Some of the players could hardly walk after the effort they had put in, but as I came on as a substitute, the fresh legs probably worked out in my favour,” added Patterson.
“I think all three substitutes made good contributions when they came on and that certainly helped as quite a few were struggling in both teams.”
“No one gave us a chance”
The Strabane man felt very few had given Derry a chance of winning the final.
“To be honest, I’m all the more delighted because very few gave us a chance of beating St. Pat’s in the FAI Cup final. Quite a few fans felt St. Pat’s were the favourites; most sections of the media fancied St. Pat’s to win it and, of coursee, the bookmakers also had them priced us as favourites, but it doesn’t always work out that way in cup finals,” he maintained.
“However, we always knew that if we turned up on the day that we would give St. Pat’s all they wanted and, in the end, that’s how it worked out.”
Having watched what proved to be a very disappointing first half from the substitutes’ bench, the striker felt that was to be expected given the pressure on the players who were performing in front of an official attendance of 16,117 supporters.
“Both sets of players were very nervous throughout the first half and very few clear-cut scoring chances were created during that period.
“However, when the first goal had been scored, I think that opened the game up a bit. St. Pat’s had taken the game to us and then we battled back, taking the game to them before we equalised.
“Finals are always about which team manages to handle the situation better on the day and I felt overall, we created more clear-cut chances and, in the end, deserved to win the match.”
Patterson also was delighted that Derry had won after the effort put in my goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty, who had attended the funeral of his grandfather earlier that morning.
“Gerard has had a tough few days, but he managed to get down to join up with us when we left the hotel to travel to the match. I’m delighted that he got through what would have been a difficult game for him, but I think he’s happy now that we won it and he played well on the day.”
Describing the victory as “right up there in his career,” the striker was always delighted to score goals in cup finals.
“This is right up there, you don’t score winning goals in cup finals every day but I think the victory has done a lot for the football club and I’m happy about that. We are back in European football next season which is great and I’m sure our supporters will enjoy that.
“We had an absolutey shocking run of injuries during the season but, as I’ve said, when we got our players back to full fitness we knew ourselves that we would be a formidable team.
“The season has finished well, but you can’t legislate for the bad luck we’ve had on the injury front, it really was tough.”