After seeing off title chasing St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday, the 29-year-old, who won the FAI Cup with the Brandywell men in 2012, believes Harps can follow-up last week’s impressive win with another important result against his former club.
“We spoke about it before the game last week, that St Pat’s were the only team we hadn’t taken anything off this season but thankfully we put that right now,” insisted McNamee.
“They’re a great team, only a couple of points behind Shamrock Rovers, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we all put in a massive effort. We were down a lot of bodies as well so it just shows that we have strength and depth in our squad.
“We also know that when we are on it, like we were against Pat’s, then we can challenge the top teams. It’s all about kicking on now with a massive, massive game against Derry now and I’m looking forward to that.
“We were down a lot of bodies against St Pat’s but it just showed the strength, depth and character in the team that we could still take on one of the big teams and win.”
The former Brandywell fans’ favourite admitted they were changed times with both Harps and the Candy Stripes going into a derby encounter as the two in-form sides in the country.
Harps have won their last four games and Derry their last five matches and McNamee feels both sets of players will be confident going into this evening’s tie.
“Form goes out the window in this game,” he insisted. “Both teams are going into it off the back of a couple of good weeks so it definitely isn’t going to be easy for either side.
“Derry coming to Finn Park, they’ll know what to expect and we know what to expect from them so I’m expecting a tough game.
“It’s two different runs of form going into this game as opposed to past games so that’s going to be a bit different but, at the end of the day, it’s a derby game between two teams who know everything about each other. I know there’s not going to be no inch given.”
In May, McNamee’s clever pass in the closing stages set-up Adam Foley to secure a 2-1 win and seal the Donegal men’s first ever victory at the Brandywell. This time around the Donegal man doesn’t mind if and when they score, as long as they give their all throughout a tie which could go to extra-time and penalties.
“It doesn’t matter to me when it comes, whether it’s the first minute or last minute,” he explained, “The same as against St Pat’s, we just going to give it our all and leave everything on the pitch. If it’s good enough, then hopefully we’ll be in the next round of the cup but we know that Derry have a number of great players who could hurt us so we have to be aware of that.”
The Ramelton man slotted into a left-wing position in last Friday’s win over Stephen O’Donnell’s side and while it isn’t be his preferred position, he’s prepared to play anywhere to help the team. That game also saw fans back in Finn Park for the first time in over a year, something which pleased the midfielder.
“We have been saying it now for a year but it’s not the same without fans, especially for us because you hear everything Ollie (Horgan) and Hegs (Paul Hegarty) are shouting at you so a couple of fans back into the match drowns out their voices a bit and that isn’t a bad thing sometimes,” he laughed.
“We were missing people against St Pat’s, so it wasn’t only me playing in a different position; Ethan (Boyle) had to play at centre-back, Karl (O’Sullivan) right-back. Rainey (Ryan Rainey) was on the opposite wing from me, working hard. When you are down bodies people have to slot into different positions.
“We are always going to leave everything out on the pitch. It was good enough against St Pat’s but whether it will be good enough this Friday, I’m not sure.”
The man who stole the show against the Saints last Friday night was striker Tunde Owolabi, who helped himself to an impressive hat-trick and McNamee feels the Belgian front man deserved to take home the match ball for his tireless work-rate alone.
“He has shown that in glimpses already this season,” confirmed McNamee, “He might even have had another couple against St Pat’s but he deserved his hat-trick for the effort he put in, things like running into the channels and chasing lost causes. He deserved everything he got last week.”
The ex-Cork City man was also full of praise for fellow midfielder Ryan Connolly after last week’s game and he feels his return should give the rest of the squad an incentive to break into the starting line-up.
“Ryan Connolly has been excellent the last two games. He started our first game at home to Bohs and then he got a bad injury and he’s only getting back into the team now,” he said. “So when you have boys like that coming back, it pushes the rest of the boys on.
“Ryan is also showing the boys on the bench that if you come in and get your chance, you have to take it. If you do well, then you’ll stay in the team.”