BIRTHDAY BOY Gerard Doherty gift-wrapped Derry City's place in the FAI Cup quarter-finals with a 95th minute match-winning penalty save against St Patrick's Athletic and the City skipper believes the club needed the win 'more than anything' after a run of inconsistent results.
The City skipper will enjoy a well deserved pint to celebrate his 37th birthday tonight knowing he's played a major role in securing the Candy Stripes' place in the last eight of the competition.
He's been involved in his fair share of pulsating FAI Cup ties against St Pat's including the 2012 and 2014 deciders at the Aviva Stadium and the experienced stopper wants nothing more than to reach the end of season showpiece in November after this dramatic cup tie against the Saints.
His heroic stoppage time save from Ian Turner with his outstretched leg was his second penalty save against St Pat's at Brandywell this season having saved late in the game from Killian Brennan in the 2-1 win in the league.
This time, however, he credited his understudy, substitute goalkeeper Eric Grimes who had offered him some valuable instructions from the bench as Turner stepped up to take the spotkick.
"It's nothing we work on," explained Doherty. "We know who's hitting them but we knew they would change it up tonight because Killian (Brennan) missed the last one up here. To be fair to Eric Grimes I was looking over at the bench and Eric was adamant he was hitting it down the middle because I think he knows the fella who hit it so I have to give him a bit of credit for that.
"It's on my birthday so it's a good wee present I suppose," he smiled. "I'll go out tonight and have a beer for that. To be honest I don't care if it was my birthday or my wedding day that victory means more than anything. We just need it at the minute. Things aren't great in the league and we're a bit inconsistent but I'm sure we can get a good cup run if we get a good draw and focus on the single matches.
"It's been like that before in a couple of finals I've been involved in it's been hectic, rollercoaster matches. I've been on the good end and the bad end of one so I know how it feels."
Teenage substitute, Adrian Delap had a large slice of luck for the winning goal which he fully deserved for his perseverance in the box and given the saved penalty at the death, does Doherty feel Derry's name might just be written on the cup?
"I don't read into stuff like that," he said. "It could've been a different story tonight if we didn't show up and we're out of the cup and it's all doom and gloom. But we did a bit of work after the Waterford match.
"We've been inconsistent but last week was probably the best week of training we had and there was a few home truths told. We worked on things that needed to be worked on and we have to keep doing that. It;s the right way to go about it and I think the boys now have a bigger picture of what we need to be doing when we get on the pitch."
It was a rare clean sheet for the Candy Stripes - their last coming in the semi-final victory over Sligo Rovers - and Doherty was delighted to see a marked improvement in the defensive side of things as they restricted St Pat's to just a single shot on target in the second half.
"I don't know what it was but in my mind that match was going back to ages ago when we were solid and teams weren't having shots. We limited our mistakes more than them not getting chances,. We knocked that out of our game and I think that was clear for everyone to see. We set out with a plan and said we're not going to give them any cheap goals anymore.
"Hopefully we can keep at it and keep that mindset for the remaining league games and whatever cup games we have left."