As he cycles from Drogheda to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin today, Derry City midfielder Barry Molloy would be forgiven if he was to let his mind wander and think about what might have been this season.
Molloy and team mate Ruaidhri Higgins are taking part in the charity cycle from Drogheda to the Aviva Stadium, where today’s FAI Cup final will take place. The cycle is to help raise money for Gary O’Neill, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer recently.
“There’s no doubting that we improved from 2012 but I have to say I was disappointed with how results went during the season,” said Molloy honestly.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought we were going to win the league this season but when we experienced such a good start to the season I started to think anything was possible.
“The wheels came off for a variety of reasons and hopefully we can learn from our mistakes.”
Next season will be Molloy’s tenth at the Brandywell and he will be entitled to a testimonial game.
“It’s a reminder that I am not getting any younger,” said Molloy, who turns 30 in four weeks’ time.
“If I am honest I still think I have three or four good seasons left in me. I have always looked after myself so with a bit of luck I’ll be about for another while.”
The Derry midfielder’s current contract runs out at the end of next season. But with so much going on at the club at recent weeks the only thing he is concerning himself with at the minute is the final result between Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United in the final of the FAI Ford Cup in the Aviva Stadium today.
“I really hope Sligo Rovers can do us a favour against Drogheda United.
“I have nothing against Drogheda but if Sligo win that means we are in Europe next season and that’s invaluable to a club like Derry City,” he said.
Derry finished the 2013 Airtricity League Premier Division season in fourth place.
Sligo Rovers finished just ahead of the Candy Stripes in third and should they win the cup today the spare European football spot would be awarded to the Foylesiders.
“For me personally, this season’s encounter in Europe with a top-class Trabzonspor team was the best European football experience I have ever had.
“It really gave me an insight into what it must be like to be playing at the very top level and it’s an experience I want to have again as many times as possible before I stop playing football.
“I know we got put out of the competition by the Turks but I thought we gave a really good account of ourselves.
“Hopefully, if Sligo do the business today there will be another chapter to be written about European football next season.”
As a result of a serious knee injury Derry City captain Kevin Deery was absent for most of the season and skippering duties fell to Molloy.
“I was so devastated for Kevin this season. No one gives 100 per cent like Kevin Deery and although many believe he will never be back I wouldn’t be so sure.
“Kevin Deery is an amazing servant to Derry City and if anyone can come back again then it’s him, if not with Derry City then hopefully with someone else.”
Molloy added: “I see captaining my hometown club as one of the greatest privileges I will ever enjoy as a player.
“I still get shivers down my back every time I put on the captain’s armband. Nothing matters more to me in terms of my career than seeing Derry City do well. And if by captaining the team I can make any sort of impact then I’ll be at the front of the queue.”
It seems like yesterday that Molloy and team mates Kevin Deery and Ruaidhri Higgins were being referred to as the youth in the Derry City team.
With plenty of knocks and matches under his belt Molloy is only happy to use his experience to try and help and develop the young players coming through at the Brandywell. He believes that with the right manager in charge, the future could be very bright for Derry City.
“I can’t believe it - I am now one of the veterans,” he smiled.
“I think it’s important to stress that while players like myself, Ruaidhri Higgins and Gerard Doherty can handle a bit of criticism it’s bit naive of people to think they can say the same things to the younger players and for them not to expect it to make any difference.
“The younger players at the club, of which there are plenty and their talent is unquestionable, should be encouraged as opposed to criticised.”
Declan Devine and Derry City parted by way of mutual consent last weekend.
Molloy said he was sad to see Devine lose his job and wished the former Candy Stripes’ boss the best of luck for the future.
“I’ve known Decky for a long time and he is a great person. I was sad to see him go but I wish him the best of luck with whatever he goes on to next.
“Declan lived and breathed Derry City and I have no doubt that he still has plenty to offer the game.”