EOIN TOAL is one of the few survivors from the Derry City team which won the 2018 EA Sports Cup Final but the defender expects to play a much bigger role on Saturday.
The 20 year-old Armagh man was an unused substitute for last season’s decider against Cobh Ramblers at the Brandywell despite having started in the second round win over Finn Harps and the quarter-final hammering of Shelbourne.
Ex-Southampton defender, Dan Seaborne was preferred to him for the final and while he holds no grudges, showing a maturity beyond his years, Toal is hoping to make amends in this weekend’s showpiece.
Only Jamie McDonagh, Adrian Delap, Darren Cole and Toal remain from last season’s triumphant cup final squad and he’s excited to go into the 2019 decider having now fully established himself as a first team player alongside his current defensive partner, Ally Gilchrist.
“I was unused in last year’s final but that was part and parcel of it,” said the defender. “I still got a League Cup winners’ medal as I played all the games leading up to it but it was just one of those games I didn’t play.
“It is what it is and I just batter on. I can probably understand Kenny’s decision. It could’ve been simply down to experience for the cup final.
“Dan Seaborne had a lot of experience. He played Premier League I think for Southampton. If it wasn’t for Kenny I wouldn’t have been at Derry City so I can understand why he did that.
“This weekend I’m looking forward to it and playing in front of what’s expected to be a sell-out crowd.”
Before then, however, Toal has the not so small matter of representing Northern Ireland Under-21s Euro 2021 qualifier against Finland at the Raatti Stadium tonight.
Ian Baraclough’s side were left frustrated in their opening Group H game against Malta at the Ballymena Showgrounds as they were held to a scoreless draw at the weekend but Toal is confident they can return home with three points in the bag after tonight.
“We should’ve taken our chances really,” reflected Toal. “We had something like 22 or 23 chances and on another day some of those go in.
“But we have to turn our attentions to Tuesday night (tonight) and we have another big game against Finland so we’re looking forward to that.
“We’re out here to win. We didn’t come out here to hold out for anything. I don’t see why we can’t get the three points.”
Both Toal and David Parkhouse are representing Derry City in the N. Ireland panel tonight and while they will attempt to put the cup final to the back of their minds until afterwards, the defender is excited about the prospect of playing in front of a packed Brandywell.
“I’m obviously looking forward to Saturday’s game. I’m used to playing Monday and Friday a lot this season so that won’t bother me. It’s a great occasion for the club and I’m glad to be in another final.
“I’ll look after this game in Finland and then that will be me home on Wednesday so I’ll be ready for it.”
“Dundalk are a top side, everyone knows that. They’re the one to beat in the league but it’s a cup final and anything can happen. We’ve held them three times this season so I don’t see why we can’t go out and beat them. If we play our game we’ll see where it takes us. “