'It's an honour to represent Derry City in Europe' - Kevin Deery
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“Speaking from experience, once you have that belief and a desire within a group, you can achieve what you want,” said the Creggan man.
“That has to be our message. We can’t be going out there feeling inferior to people. It’s 11 men and subs coming off the bench, you have to go on and take on the task in front of you.”
The Derry City management team is vastly experienced in European competition with manager Declan Devine assistant to Stephen Kenny during the Candy Stripes’ famous 2006 UEFA Cup run.
Paddy McCourt has played against Arsenal for Celtic in the Champions League qualifying rounds and has represented the Hoops in the group stages of the Europa League. The Derry Pele of course was also part of that memorable 2006 campaign for Derry which fashioned wins over Gothenburg and Gretna before losing out to PSG.
First team coach, Marty McCann played Champions League qualifiers with Cliftonville while City’s assistant boss, Deery was Derry’s hero at Fir Park, Motherwell when the club put Gretna to the sword.
Deery enjoyed plenty of success with his hometown club but he’s arguably best remembered for those two spectacular strikes against the Scots.
It’s admittedly something which irks Deery given it overshadows slightly what was a stellar career in the red and white candy stripes but he knows first hand how special those moments can be.
And that’s something he will be relaying to this current crop of Derry players who attempt to progress through a round in Europe tonight in Vilnius.
“We’re looking forward to it and we’ll be as best prepared as we can. It’s a great honour for anyone to play in Europe.
“I think experience in anything always stands to you. The players will be ready to go and we can only pass on what we know and how difficult these games can be.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with this great club for quite a number of games in Europe so I’ll be passing on the message that it’s special to get through a round in Europe.
“There’s a real togetherness in the squad,” he added. “We’ll be believing we can get at them. We’ll be backing our players to give a good account of themselves and hopefully it’s good enough to get us through.”
The timely 3-1 victory over Cork City at Brandywell on Friday will give the players a badly needed injection of confidence ahead of tonight’s match at the LFF Stadium. And while Deery was impressed with the character shown during that comeback win, he’s fully aware it will be no easy task against the Lithuanians.
“The result against Cork will give them belief that they can attack teams and score goals because I felt we could’ve had five or six.
“We’re delighted with the way we’re going. This team (FK Riteriai) is a tough team. I watched them on Thursday night and they drew with the team (Zalgiris) second in their division.
“So we’re under no illusions. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to go out there with a game plan that we feel will get us a win.
“We’ve watched them quite a bit, myself and Declan (Devine), and we’ll show the players where we feel we can get at them. They’re dangerous though so we will have to be at our best.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game like every game is when you go to Europe. It goes without saying we’ll not take it lightly, we’ll do our thorough preparation to give the players every chance but they’ve also got to back themselves and believe in themselves because without belief you’ll not go through a round in Europe.”
Asked whether the success of Irish League clubs, Glentoran and Coleraine in the competition last week will give them added confidence, Deery said it was of little consequence.
“We won’t compare results. We look at the team we face. We won’t look at results from last week, that’s out of our hands.
“I feel this group of players are getting better. We will prepare them as best we can and will go into the game giving ourselves every chance and hopefully we can do the business.”