Devine hails Derry City's never-say-die attitude after dramatic Dundalk draw
DECLAN DEVINE reckons the last gasp equaliser against Dundalk showed his side's biggest quality as they once again displayed a dogged determination to get back in the game.
For a second time this season the Candy Stripes clawed out an impressive result against all odds against the champions and current league leaders.
At Oriel Park last May, City were 2-0 down in the second half but somehow found a way back through goals from Darren Cole and Eoghan Stokes.
And on Friday night Pat Hoban's 90th minute header looked to have broken Derry hearts in cruel fashion but Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe popped up in the final minute of stoppage time to clinch a thoroughly deserved draw.
After a gruelling 900 mile round-trip which took them to Cork and Dublin in the space of seven days, it was a remarkable result which made it five points from 12 and stretched City's unbeaten run to six matches.
And Devine was delighted with how his players responded to send the home fans away happy and having ended Dundalk's incredible eight match winning run.
"A lot of teams would crumble in the 90th minute and I felt hurt right inside," he admitted. "I was gutted for the players when the goal went in but I was just ecstatic when Junior's goal went in because I felt we deserved to get a point at least.
"We're delighted with the week we've had," added the City boss. "We've been away to Cork, away to Bohs and the last people you want coming to the Brandywell is Dundalk. It's testament to what this football club means to our players. They've really bought into the core values of Derry City Football Club. They've bought into our supporters being relentlessly behind us at home.
"Our players give every inch of energy in their bodies. And even when they get a kick in the teeth in the 90th minute, they fully deserved to get back in that game.
It's nothing to do with management or tactics and it's nothing to do with me, Kevin Deery, Paddy McCourt, Marty McCann," he added. "The players drove that results on themselves and fair play to each and every one of them.
"We keep going for 90 odd minutes," he continued. "We don't give in and that is probably our biggest quality. Yes, we're very good with the ball and can pass teams around the park. But the drive and heart and determination and the pride to wear our shirt is massive in them. You only have to hear them talk on a daily basis. They love playing for this football club and rightly so.
"The shirt demands respect, this club demands respect and I have to say, with hand on heart, every single player in that changing room has given us everything."
Devine reserved special praise for the significant part the Brandywell support played in the game as they helped inspire the late comeback.
"When I came into this club I wanted us to be hard to beat and we are hard to beat. We're hard to break down. We've got a lot of creative players, a lot of attack-minded players.They deserve huge credit.
"We all know there's still work to be done. Hopefully we can continue to improve and continue to have the support of the crowds we had here tonight. Without the support tonight we would never had got back into game," he claimed. "Ultimately we are extremely proud we were able to send our supporters home happy."
Friday's draw was Derry's first league match at home in six weeks, their last being the 4-0 win over Finn Harps on May 24th.
They now face back to back home fixtures against UCD and Sligo Rovers and despite recent encouraging results and performances, Devine isn't taking anything for granted,
"We've got to strive to get better, There's no one patting themselves on the back. There's no celebrations in the changing room. We were disappointed to give away a goal in the 90th minute. It's something we can't let happen again.
"It's a big fortnight coming up for us. We've got UCD and Sligo here. UCD have shown tonight you can't underestimate them. Over the years they have shown they are capable of beating anyone in this league. We have to make sure we're focused and really determined to gain more points at this stage of the season.
"I expect us to beat everybody but we are under no illusions that everyone will come here fancying their chances as well. This league is that type of league, We set up to win every single game as we did tonight. We can't look past next week. UCD had a fantastic result tonight and it will be extremely difficult for us next week."