League of Ireland title race far from over says Derry City's Mark Connolly

MARK Connolly insists the League of Ireland title race is far from over and, with six games to go, claims Derry City are preparing to fight leaders Shamrock Rovers until the bitter end.

Derry can move to within two points of the leaders tonight with victory over fourth placed St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park and Connolly has urged his teammates to dig deep to clinch a result which will pile the pressure on the Hoops.

Rovers don’t play until tomorrow when they travel to the Sligo Showgrounds but with just six matches remaining, Connolly insists Derry intend to give themselves every chance of stunning the back-to-back champions.

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“Every single one of the games are massive,” said the Clones native. “We’ve got six games remaining in the league and every one of them is massive. You’ve got Dundalk fighting for Europe, St Pat’s as well and the league’s not finished yet.

“The title race isn’t finished yet and we want to keep putting pressure on Shamrock Rovers. The only way we can do that is by winning games. We’ve got six left and our mindset has to be to go out and win all six. There’s no reason why we can’t do that with the players and the staff we have at the club. There’s no reason why we can’t win all six.”

The leaders have played twice since Derry last played in the league, opening up a five point gap at the top but Connolly doesn’t believe that lead is insurmountable given the Candy Stripes take on Rovers in Tallaght in the penultimate fixture.

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There’s much work to be done before then, however, starting with tonight’s trip to Inchicore where Connolly expects a real test of their resolve.

“We genuinely can’t worry too much about what Shamrock Rovers do,” he said. “All we can do is worry about our own games and make sure we put pressure on Rovers.

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Derry City defender Mark Connolly, pictured on his debut for the club, believes the Brandywell outfit can still win the title.

“All we can do is win all our football matches. If Shamrock Rovers win all of theirs, then so be it, they’ll be deserving of winning the league. All we can do from now until the end of the season is make sure we put as much pressure on as we can. That starts on Friday at St Pat’s.

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“If we can go there and win then Saturday for Shamrock Rovers will be a tough game away to Sligo. Nothing is over yet. We take each game as it comes and St Pats is the first in this mini league of six fixtures we’ve got. It’s probably one of the toughest you could ask for but the boys are all looking sharp and fit and we’re in a good vein of form so we’re excited for it.

“The manager is driving it into us every day about how we want to win stuff and keep our standards high and stay professional. Credit to all the boys, they’ve done it so far but there’s still quite a way to go and we have to keep driving on until the end.”

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