Derry City's season comes down to 90 minutes against rivals Finn Harps

DERRY CITY are set to land a vital financial windfall should they secure the final Europa League qualifying spot and it all boils down to 90 minutes against their fierce North West rivals, Finn Harps.

Declan Devine is confident his Derry City side can achieve something special with victory over Finn Harps.
Declan Devine is confident his Derry City side can achieve something special with victory over Finn Harps.

There’s at least E280,000 up for grabs for the team which finishes in fourth spot as they enter the Europa League preliminary round.

Third place is still a possibility for the Candy Stripes although it’s highly unlikely Bohs will lose at home to Sligo on Friday night.

Regardless of results elsewhere, Devine knows his side need to produce one final effort to clinch European football - an achievement he believes they fully deserve.

“It boils down to this,” he said. “You rarely qualify for Europe by eight points or 10 points. You qualify by a couple of points. And if you look at the points we got together all year, away to Oriel Park 2-0 down, we pulled back to earn a point.

“Away to Tallaght, 2-0 down and we earn a point. We went down to Cork where we hadn’t won in quite a while and we win 4-1. All these points are now coming together and it’s down to what we’ve done all year.

“All those points we fought for, spilled tears and blood for with people getting injured and putting their bodies on the line to accumulate those points, it now comes down to the next 90 minutes.

“We’ll give everything we possibly can and if it’s not good enough, we’ll hold our hands up. I think the players deserve it. If they come with the right focus then they can achieve something really special.

“It’s E280,000 for every game you win in Europe. We want to get across the line but let’s qualify first. These players deserve it. The chairman, board of directors, our office staff, everybody at the football club deserves it. But more importantly, the fans deserve it because they came out this year in their numbers, both home and away.

“We’ve had a lot of big crowds at the Brandywell. A lot of entertainment, we’ve scored a lot of brilliant goals but now it’s just down to this one match.

“We want to start the game in a positive frame of mind. We want to start with energy, with passion and to maintain the ball and give our crowd something to cheer about.

“But it’s also an opportunity to put Tuesday night to right as well because we didn’t perform to the levels we’re capable of against St Pat’s. However, had you offered me this chance at the start of the year I would’ve bitten your hand off.”

Should Derry finish the job, Devine will be delighted but he insists he won’t be patting himself on the back, claiming he’s only getting started.

“We’re only starting,” he insisted. "People are asking, ‘Is this Derry back?’ We’re not back. We’re only starting. We’ve got plans for the club. We’re going to get better. We want a stronger squad, we want to score more goals, we want to win more matches.

“I think this year we’ve been good but also wasteful at times. We could’ve been higher up the table but the players have worked so hard.

“Let’s not underestimate where we’ve come from. We were sitting here six weeks before the season started with four players. We’ve pulled a group of players together who have bought into everything we’ve asked of them. They’ve bought into the culture of our city. You won’t see players out the socialising in the town anymore.

“The impact of the players has been really professional and for that alone I’d like to see them achieve European qualification. That is a starting block, absolute professionalism in terms of their willingness to be a footballer.

“That’s something special and that’s been one of the proudest things for me with these players. Anything we’ve asked of them they’ve done it. They’ve bought into the culture of our city and for me, that in itself has been a huge success.”