FAI Cup loss 'heartbreaking' says Derry City skipper Barry McNamee

Barry McNamee haunts down Dundalk midfielder, Chris Shields.
Barry McNamee haunts down Dundalk midfielder, Chris Shields.

DERRY CITY skipper, Barry McNamee has promised to leave no stone unturned in the quest for European football after the club's FAI Cup dreams were shattered by 'treble' seeking Dundalk at Brandywell.

Despite an heroic effort from the Candy Stripes, who clawed the double winners back to earn a 2-2 draw and force extra-time in a dramatic second round tie, they ultimately fell short following the concession of an avoidable late, late strike from ex- City striker, Georgie Kelly.

They still have one more shot at stopping Dundalk's treble bid on the 30th anniversary of Derry City's historic 1989 success in next month's EA Sports Cup Final on Foyleside.

And McNamee, who believes it's 'only a matter of time' before they get the better of the Lilywhites, is intent that the Brandywell club finish the campaign strongly.

"It's only a matter of time before we turn them over I think," said the City captain. "But they're not going to give you anything. They're the best side in the country for the last four or five years. They've all been there and done it and they're doing it again.

"Nobody is going to criticise our character," he added. "Everyone just keeps going and at the end of the day we fell short but over the next nine weeks or so we'll leave no stone unturned to qualify for Europe and hopefully we lift the cup here as well."

All the talk in the lead up to Friday night's encounter surrounded Dundalk's treble aspirations but McNamee claimed Derry's thoughts centred more around simply getting into the last 16 and keeping alive their own chances of winning the cup.

"It was spoken about briefly during the week that Derry were the only Irish team to win the treble but for us players it's about getting to a cup final," he said. "We wanted to get through to the next round. We wanted to just win the match and do well for ourselves. It's heart-breaking but we will live and learn and move onto Waterford next week."

Derry came within the width of the crossbar of winning the tie in normal time as substitute, Ciaron Harkin headed against the woodwork with Dundalk keeper, Gary Rodgers rooted to the spot in the fifth of six minutes stoppage time.

It was a brave effort from the Candy Stripes but McNamee was disappointed with the manner of the goals given away.

"We know they're a top side but as we spoke about in the changing room after the game, if you keep giving soft goals away then you're never going to get much against the big teams.

"We're disappointed but at the same time, we gave everything we've got and pushed them all the way. It's just gutting at the end of the day.

"We to get our act together and not go 1-0 or 2-0 down before we kick into gear. At the same time it shows you the character of the team, the never-say-die attutide. We just kept going and got our rewards.

"We could've won it in normal time when Jackie has hit the bar from a header. We'll learn from this and move on. We've got a big end to the season ahead."

McNamee was a shock omission from the starting XI and came on alongside Darren McCauley for the final 20 minutes in a double substitution which changed the game in Derry's favour.

The Ramelton lad had a major role to play in the goal which took the tie to extra-time as he drove forward and played Jamie McDonagh into space and the winger's cross was turned in at the near post by McCauley with just seven minutes remaining.

"We were getting beat at that stage and needed to drive on. If we conceded another one and get beat two or three it doesn't matter as it's a cup competition and goal difference doesn't matter.

"Before the game and at half-time it was drilled into us to give it all we've got and we won't be far away and we weren't far away, it just wasn't enough in the end.

"We spoke about it at the start of extra-time, we thought we were in the ascendancy and driving forward. Pete's (Cherrie) made one good save somewhere near the end but other than that we were the ones driving forward. We were the ones trying to create chances.

"Take nothing away from them. They deserve credit for keep coming back and throwing more at you. We stood up to it well and it's just a pity we keep giving soft goals away."