EXPERIENCED Brandywell hitman, Rory Patterson, is surprised he has returned to fitness prior to the FAI Cup Final.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The Strabane man admitted he had “written the season off” after attempting to come back too early from a torn hamstring injury. However, thanks to no shortage of hard work off the pitch, the striker is injury free and now eagerly awaiting Sunday’s final.
“I must admit, I’m surprise I’ve recovered fully from my hamstring problem after experiencing a breakdown,” said Patterson. “I never thought I’d be competing for a place in the cup final squad but I’m delighted I got through my rehabilitation and everything has worked out for me,” added Rory.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that I’m available to play and while I realise I can’t take anything for granted, I’m hopeful I will get called upon to play in my first FAI Cup final.
Having played his part in the superb Derry performance that defeating Shamrock Rovers 1-3 in Tallaght Stadium recently, Patterson was forced to sit out the final home game against St. Pat’s due to a one match ban.
“The important thing is I’m now back in full training and I’m feeling great now that the hamstring problem has been solved and everything is back to normal.”
Having joined Derry City from Linfield, where he had been on loan from Plymouth Argyle, Patterson felt he did not give his body the rest that was required after a tough season in the Irish League season.
“That was the problem. I left one season in the Irish League and went straight back into action in the League of Ireland without any kind of break. I didn’t get the necessary rest and I paid for that with the injury problems I had,” claimed the striker.
“In addition, I actually played in games when I shouldn’t have as I was carrying knocks and those injuries got worse as result of me continuing to play with the use of injections. But, those injuries are behind me now and to have a cup final to look forward to is great, especially after we lost out in the Setanta Final against Crusaders.
“Having played in that game, I really don’t think we did ourselves justice. Overall, we had a disappointing season but that’s all down to the injury crisis which hit the club at vital stages of the season,” continued the 28-year-old.
“Quite a few of the games we lost lost were down to errors on our part while in some other games, I didn’t think we deserved to lose, especially at the Brandywell when other teams arrived to basically shut up shop.
“Now, however, we have got a chance to make it a successful season if we can win the FAI Cup and I think this will prove to be an end of season boost to the players and coaching staff.
“Declan (Devine) has a full complement of players to select from which, no doubt, will give him a few problems but it’s a nice position for a manager to be in before a cup final.
“Some players will be delighted, others unhappy, once the team has been selected, but that’s all down to the manager and backroom team as everyone wants to play.”
As an experienced senior player, would he be disappointed if placed on the sub’s bench rather than starting the game?
“Naturally I’d love to be in the starting XI but I do realise that I’ve lost out on a big part of the season due to injury. I would say that I’m fully fit, I’m ready and willing to play, but that decision is down to the manager, it’s not up to me.
“I’d like to think the coaching staff appreciated the fact I played when maybe I should have rested. I was always prepared to step up to the mark for the benefit of the team despite the fact I wasn’t fit to play.
“I delighted that we’re in the final and I’d be absolutely thrilled if we manage to win the trophy. Then I would sit back and enjoy the close season and, at the same time, keep myself in shape and be ready to hit the ground running for the 2013 campaign.
“I’m enjoying playing for Derry City now that I’m fit. When you are injured it’s not a nice place to be and from a player’s point of view, there’s nothing worse that watching others training and playing matches when there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
“Now that I’m back and fit, it’s a brighter place to be and I want to play my part in the final if I’m selected and, hopefully, I will get an opportunity to perform.”
When asked for his thoughts on the game, he felt it was a 50-50 match.
“The momentum is with us but St. Pat’s are a good team. I don’t believe there will be a favourite, it’s all about which team turns up on the day. Hopefully that team will be us,” he concluded.