Former Derry City favourite Barry McNamee plays his part in memorable Finn Harps win

Midfielder Barry McNamee believes Finn Harps can build on Tuesday’s memorable win over north west neighbours, Derry City.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:54 pm
Finn Harps midfielder Barry McNamee keeps his eye on the ball as Derry City’s Ronan Boyce prepares to tackle during Monday night’s derby. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The Ramelton man, whose neat pass set-up Adam Foley’s late winner, said the players were well aware what the come from behind victory at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium would mean to Harps supporters.

While the historic win was the Donegal club’s first league success at the Lone Moor Road ground, Ollie Horgan’s men did secure an away win against the Candy Stripes in the league in 2017 when BJ Banda and Michael Funston sealed a 2-0 victory at Maginn Park. Nevertheless, McNamee knows how important Monday night’s victory is for the current squad.

“A few were saying in the changing room that it might have been our first win over Derry at the Brandywell,” explained McNamee.

“I have to admit I don’t remember a Harps team ever winning in here so it’s obviously a great feeling and the Harps fans will be buzzing.

“They’ll remember most of these boys for the rest of their lives as it’s the first Harps team win in the Brandywell but, listen, we aren’t going to settle on this, we have to push on and see what we can do now on Saturday at Bohemians.”

After a great start to the 2021 campaign which saw three wins from their opening four games, Harps had stuttered, prior to Monday picking up only one point from their previous four games but the former Derry playmaker felt Harps had done enough in those games against Longford Town, Sligo Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers to travel to the Brandywell confident they could get a positive result.

Defensive mistakes and poor finishing had contributed to Horgan’s men arriving at the derby in poor form, but given they were particularly unfortunate against Stephen Bradley’s champions, McNamee felt they had nothing to worry about against Ruaidhri Higgins’ team.

“It’s a big win but we have played well over the last couple of weeks and got nothing out of these games, silly mistakes have cost us points,” he added.

“We knew that Derry had turned a corner in the last couple of weeks and had a couple of big wins but we knew coming in here that we had a squad that was good enough to put it up to them.

“To be honest we were disappointed to go in 1-0 down at half-time but we showed great character to come back and win.”

McNamee’s clever, inch perfect pass on 89 minutes set-up Foley to coolly fire home his fifth goal of the season which secured the deserved win but the former Derry favourite admitted he did think about shooting himself before feeding the ex-Newry City striker.

“I did think about shooting myself but I saw Adam’s run and noticed the two Derry boys had got dragged towards me. I knew Adam had a bit of space and the form he has been in in front of goal this year has been superb so I was happy enough to slip him in,” he said.

“At the end of the day he’s the striker and he’s paid the big bucks to win us games so fair play to him again tonight.”

The 29-year-old, who during his two spells with the Candy Stripes won the FAI Cup back in 2012, more than played his part in Harps’ success on Monday night.

However McNamee was also quick to point to the fine margins that make the difference as the Ballybofey side claimed the points after almost losing the game in the dying minutes when Jack Malone rattled the woodwork seconds before Foley netted the all important winner.

“It was the same in the first half Tunde (Owolabi) had a great chance. Nathan (Gartside) has pulled off a great save and then Derry go up the pitch and score, those fine margins make all the difference. It could have been a different game if we had gone in 1-0 up at half-time,” added McNamee.

“We rode our luck a bit when Derry hit the crossbar and the post towards the end of the game but while we rode our luck with those incidents, at the same time I thought we played well. I felt we were the better of the two teams but a draw would probably have been a fair result.”

Deep into stoppage time Derry skipper Eoin Toal missed a glorious chance to level when his close range header came back off the post but McNamee claimed that had that header had gone in, Harps would have had no one but themselves to blame admitting they had switched off after Foely’s goal. It was a scenario which cost the Donegal men last season at the Brandywell when Adam Liddle’s late strike saved Derry with virtually the last kick of the game and McNamee was relieved history did not repeat itself.

“Last year we thought the hard work was done but conceded with the last kick of the game after we switching off and, to be honest, we switched off again this year and got away with it,” he admitted.

“But, look, when you are ahead in a game you get these rub of the green moments, so while we got the rub of the green tonight, we have a massive game on Saturday now at Bohemians and we have to prepare for that.”