TREVOR Croly blamed the heavy fixture schedule for taking its toll on his players after his side slumped to their first league defeat of the season at Brandywell on Friday night.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Shamrock Rovers teamsheet caused quite a stir prior to kick-off, particularly given the omission of top striker, Mark Quigley from the starting line-up.
And with a patched-up central defence due to the absence of injured duo, Ken Oman and Jason McGuinness, Croly claimed their unforgiving schedule was having a major impact on his team selection.
Friday’s loss was the Hoops’ fourth game in a busy 10 day period, therefore Croly felt justified in relegating the former Sligo hitman to the subs’ bench.
“We were playing three games in quick succession and in 10 days we’re playing four,” noted the ‘Hoops’ boss.
“So psychologically, we’re human beings, and we just can’t sustain that effort. It’s a lot to ask from one individual, particularly in a forward area where you have to make something happen.
“It’s different if you’re a goalkeeper or a defender, you have more chance of playing that number of games, but to play four times in 10 days is a lot of volume. It’s not really possible.”
And Croly, who heaped praise on Declan Devine’s team for their superb early season form which has driven them to within two points of the leaders, felt his charges deserved to get something from the game given the balance of play.
“Derry have done exceptionally well. Declan’s into his second year as a manager and he won the FAI Cup last season which was a fantastic achievement. Derry look solid and they’ve improved again so he’s doing a great job at the minute.
“But I really think we really should have got something from that game.
“It became stretched after Derry scored their first goal and we were pressing. We didn’t get what we deserved in terms of the lads’ efforts and endeavour but that happens sometimes!
“It looks poor because we’ve drawn so many games but the guys didn’t get what their effort deserved.
“People don’t normally take into consideration the fact that we had to make a few personnel changes. It makes it tricky.
“Dave Elebert came in and he was fantastic because he’s only trained twice since he’s been out with a groin injury and we had to take him off in the second half, otherwise we would’ve been carrying him off.
“He was in a high risk area of getting another injury, so he did fantastic and it was a pity we had to take him off.
“We brought Steven (Rice) on and he scores, so there was a benefit to that as well. It doesn’t help. You would obviously like to have everyone available to you but, again, that doesn’t always happen and you have to deal with that situation,” he concluded.