PHILIP LOWRY believes Derry City’s name must be written on this year’s FAI Cup given the way the Brandywell club has ploughed its way into next month’s Final at the Aviva.
The Limavady man was responsible for rescuing City from an embarrassing FAI Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of nine man Drogheda on September 12th.
Lowry netted an 84th minute equaliser to ensure a replay at Brandywell where they emphatically booked their place in the semi-finals four days later.
And the drama didn’t end there for the talented midfielder as he was at fault for Shamrock Rovers’ goal in the semi-final tie in Tallaght before Rory Patterson salvaged a replay from the depths of despair.
Three days later and Lowry, who scored 53 goals in 204 appearances for Linfield, redeemed himself as he was awarded the ‘man of the match’ accolade by competition sponsors, Ford in the dramatic replay on Foyleside.
Michael Duffy and Patterson paved the way for a repeat of the 2012 FAI Cup Final with two late, late goals in a thrilling climax against the ‘Hoops’ in front of the biggest attendance of the season.
Former N. Ireland U21 international, Lowry is no stranger to Cup Finals having won three Irish Cup titles (2010, 2011 and 2012) in his first three seasons with Linfield.
But when he swapped Windsor Park for Brandywell Stadium this summer, he didn’t think he would be appearing in the League of Ireland showpiece so soon, particularly given City’s turbulent start to the season.
And he’s eager to add his name to the exclusive list of Derry City players who have won both the FAI and Irish Cup trophies.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win three Irish Cup finals with Linfield,” said Lowry. “And you would think that our name is written on the cup given the way it went down at Drogheda and the way it happened on Sunday at Tallaght, and then again at Brandywell on Tuesday night.
“This has been a great cup run for us,” he continued. “Whenever Rovers got the man sent off and Rory missed the penalty I was beginning to think maybe it’s just not going to be our night.
“But all credit to the lads they kept going to the very end and obviously Mickey (Duffy), as he’s done so often this year, popped up with a textbook goal and Rory got one to finish it off. It was unbelievable scenes and a really special night. It’s just all about character in this team,” he said. “Peter (Hutton) alluded to it previously when we came back from 1-0 down in Tallaght. We were disappointed with the amount of chances we missed and the goal we gave away.
“But we knew once we got them back to the Brandywell and with the crowd behind us we could get through.
“They might of had the majority of possession and while it might have looked like we were standing off them, that was our game plan, to let them have the ball because they have players who can hurt you if you push up the field.
“So it worked to perfection and in the second half we got to grips and we battered them. It could have been three or four. It was a great performance second half and we’re buzzing now to get to the Aviva.”
An appearance in the Final appeared nothing short of a pipe dream when Lowry joined the ‘Candy Stripes’ in June as Peter Hutton was beginning to turn around a dismal start to the campaign.
Therefore, to be involved in the November 2nd showpiece at the Dublin venue, is a dream come true for the former Blue.
“I wasn’t here when the previous management were here,” said Lowry. “But since I’ve come in Peter Hutton has been an absolute breath of fresh air. He’s obviously a club legend but credit to the fans they’ve stuck through the hard times this season.
“Our season was more or less over before it started the way Derry started the season. We knocked ourselves out of the league running and the League Cup.
“So once ‘Pizza’ came in, the cup was really our only competition left. We’ve realised that and now we find ourselves just one step away from winning it.”
The former Institute man has experienced special nights at Brandywell on the opposition side when playing for Linfield in the Setanta Cup, so he was delighted to be on the right side of the fervent Brandywell support on Tuesday night.
With his family and friends present in the stands, the night will live long in the memory of Lowry but he expects to top that feeling at the Aviva next month.
“I’ve been up to the Brandywell playing with Linfield before and the place was bouncing,” he recalled. “It was a very intimidating atmosphere to play in.
“So it was good to be on the good side or on the Derry side this time,” he smiled. “It was a special, special night. And especially being from the locality, it means so much more as I had so many mates and friends and family at the match.
“It was a night to remember for them and hopefully we can give them another one down at the Aviva.”
It promises to be an entertaining conclusion to the season if the last two Cup Finals involving St Pat’s and Derry City are anything to go by.
And Lowry is expecting an extremely difficult test against a Saints team he rates as the best he’s come up against in his short time in the League of Ireland.
“Pat’s are, in my eyes, the best team in the league. I only playedthem once and they were the toughest team I’ve faced since I’ve come to the League of Ireland. But we’ve got four weeks to prepare and I’m sure they won’t be looking forward to playing Derry City either,” he concluded.