DERRY City made it through to their first Setanta Sports Cup final, but the “Candy Stripes” made it a very nervous finish for their supporters having conceded a second Shamrock Rovers goal five minutes from the end.
ARTHUR DUFFY was at Brandywell
And while Rovers certainly deserved to win last night’s second leg semi-final, Derry had just done enough in Tallaght the previous Monday night when winning the first leg 3-0.
Last night, therefore, it was all about consolidating that lead and while the “Candy Stripes” certainly held their own in the opening period, they were caught cold after the break.
Clearly the happier side with the blank scoresheet at the break, Derry had actually dominated the clear-cut scoring chances.
And in what was a tactical battle, which saw the midfield flooded with bodies, neither side managed to get overall control.
Derry’s Patrick McEleney was presented with the first scoring chance and he really should have done better after 16 minutes. Having been played in by Dermot McCaffrey, the 19-year-old flashed his shot across the face of goal and wide.
Four minutes later it was Rovers who went close following a corner. Gary Twigg got his head to the ball but it appeared to strike a Rovers player and Derry breathed a sigh of relief.
Gary McCabe lashed a shot high and wide for Rovers in the 34th minute but it was Derry’s Stephen McLaughlin who had the final say in the opening period. Davy McDaid played an incisive pass in behind the Rovers defence and while McLaughlin could have taken the ball in closer he left fly from 20 yards, the ball high and wide of its intended target.
Derry caught cold
But Rovers caught Derry cold after the break when conceding a goal within six minutes of the second half. Daryl Kavanagh gained possession on the right and his centre saw Gary Twigg rise majestically to plant a downward header into the net from eight yards.
Rovers continued to grow in confidence and five minutes later they could so easily have doubled their lead. A superb move down the left saw the ball worked into the path of Twigg but his shot on the turn sailed narrowly over the Derry crossbar.
And Rovers fashioned a nervous finish when Twigg added a second goal with five minutes remaining. Conor McCormack sent over a corner and while Barry Molloy blocked a headed effort on his goal-line, the ball broke to Twigg who forced it home from close range.
With four minutes of added time sanctioned by referee, Raymond Crangle, the attendance sat on their hands, the home crowd was delighted to hear the final whistle.
Derry City – Doherty; Madden, McCallion, McBride, McCaffrey; McEleney, Higgins, Molloy, Deery (McGroary, 59), McLaughlin (Crossan, 87); McDaid.
Shamrock Rovers – Jansson; Sives, Oman (Hawkins, h-t), Gartland; McCabe (McCormack, 74), Finn, Rice (Greene, 66), Turner, Dennehy; Kavanagh, Twigg.
Referee – R. Crangle (Antrim).