Kevin Deery set to shuffle pack for Billy Kee Memorial Cup challenge against Derry City

Tiernan McKinney could get the chance to play against his uncles Shane and Patrick McEleney in the Billy Kee Memorial Cup tomorrow night at Brandywell.Tiernan McKinney could get the chance to play against his uncles Shane and Patrick McEleney in the Billy Kee Memorial Cup tomorrow night at Brandywell.
Tiernan McKinney could get the chance to play against his uncles Shane and Patrick McEleney in the Billy Kee Memorial Cup tomorrow night at Brandywell.
​KEVIN Deery understandably will have one eye on Saturday's crunch Irish Cup clash against Ards but the 'Stute boss views Wednesday night's annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup Final against Derry City as a fantastic 'challenge' for his young players.

​Caoimhin Porter, Tiernan McKinney, Liam Mullan, Evan Tweed, Fintan Doherty, Mikhail Kennedy and Danny Lafferty are among those who have current or past connections with the Candy Stripes and will no doubt be relishing the chance to test themselves against Ruaidhri Higgins’ team at Brandywell.

McKinney could get the chance to come up against his uncles Shane and Patrick McEleney making it a real family occasion but more importantly for ex-Derry assistant manager, Deery, it's a chance to give his players an opportunity to play against top quality opposition and hand some of his fringe players some game time ahead of that Irish Cup match at the weekend.

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"We'll use the game to give boys minutes and we'll mix our team up quite a bit. We'll use it as a really good test for ourselves. I'm sure Ruaidhri will be saying the same," began Deery.

"He'll want to give boys minutes into their legs and get a good run around and a good competitive game which you need. I don't think either team will slack off in that regard.

"Derry City is a fantastic full-time club and it will be brilliant for my young boys and my players to test themselves against them because they're an unbelievable outfit. I'm looking forward to the challenge but more importantly for our boys it's about getting that experience of playing against top players.

"We've given loads of young boys who have come out of Derry underage football an opportunity and they are really enjoying their first year in senior football with us and it's nights like this where they can go and enjoy it and show their talent.

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"We want young players to express themselves and compete against top players and Tiernan will hopefully get a run out against his uncle too."

City skipper, Patrick McEleney is also hoping he can get some game time against his 'talented' nephew.

"Hopefully," said 'Fats'. "I was just chatting to his da about it. He's flying at the minute and I think he has 14 assists or something like that. He is very talented and he's dedicated and goes to the gym and he's in great shape. He's a great lad to be fair and it would be great to have the three of us out there at some stage."

Institute go into Wednesday night's game on top form and despite a 2-2 draw away to Ards in the league last Saturday, Deery's troops remain on top of the NIFL Championship table.

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There was no ground won or lost at the top as Dundela drew 1-1 with Portadown and Bangor were held by Dergview. And while Deery saw it as an opportunity lost given his team's dominance at Ards, the fact they scored in the 90th plus minute for the ninth time this season to secure a point, was pleasing for the Creggan man who has been impressed by the character shown by his young team.

"Another 90th plus minute goal which is a real positive for us. That never-say-die attitude when we're losing games we hang in there. That's a third of our games this season we've got goals in the 90 plus minute which is good.”

"Our performance levels were quite good for long periods in the game. Maybe we needed a wee bit more cutting edge and quality in the final third but outside of that, we controlled large parts of the game.

"We only really gave up a corner and a direct free kick and we conceded from them so we need to stop giving away chances like that.

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"So their goals were really preventable. Caoimhin Porter took his goal really well, getting forward which is what we want from our fullbacks.

"Obviously we were putting the ball in the empty net and they deliberately handled it and got a man sent off. We scored the penalty and I think if the game was to go on for another few minutes we would've gone on to win it.

"It's a really tight league. Sometimes you look at those games and wonder if it was a missed opportunity. I would love for us to get back to having that ruthless streak. Our last eight games before that we had four clean sheets so we need to give less away especially with set-pieces.

"We're not really being troubled a lot from open play so we need to be really focussed whenever we do give up free-kicks and corners into the box so we sharpen our minds. If we do that we can keep growing and keep getting results."

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Deery finds himself one attacking option short for the remainder of the season after Glentoran recalled striker Kirk McLaughlin from his loan spell early. It's a blow for 'Stute but Deery thanked the player for his contribution this season.

"We're obviously a forward down now. We want to wish Kirk well. “He's had a fantastic contribution for us. He's scored a couple of big goals for us this season. He scored his hat-trick against Bangor at home and then he had a massive goal against Dundela away when he came off the bench.

"He's a fantastic young fella and we wish him well. Hopefully he gets his chance back at Glentoran."

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