BARRY McNamee is the only surviving member of Derry City’s 2012 FAI Cup winning team in the current squad and he played a significant role in ensuring the club kept alive their hopes of reaching the 2019 Aviva Stadium showpiece with a first round win over Wexford.
It was the Ramelton man’s first season in senior football when he helped defeat St Pat’s Athletic 3-2 after extra-time under the guidance of Declan Devine and the captaincy of current assistance boss, Kevin Deery.
He’s also finished as runner-up with Derry in 2014 and again last season with Cork City as he came off the bench in the Rebels’ defeat to Dundalk. And so he’s well positioned to explain just how good a day out the FAI Cup Final can be as reward for a long season in the League of Ireland.
That was the message to the players from the City management prior to their cup opener against First Division side, Wexford as Devine wanted to keep their focus on the prize despite being overwhelming favourites to progress to the last 16.
In the end it needed a fine assist from McNamee to unlock a plucky Wexford defence and a clinical finish from man of the moment, David Parkhouse with just four minutes to go.
It was a tough night for the Candy Stripes but for McNamee, all that mattered was getting their name in the hat for yesterday’s second round draw where they were paired with holders, Dundalk.
Despite having home advantage in that second round tie against the Lilywhites, Derry will be underdogs with Dundalk tipped to go all the way once more. There's plenty of football to be played before that cup clash, however, and while McNamee doesn't fear anyone, he isn't allowing his mind to wander.
“You don’t really look back to see what the score was at the end of the year when you look back on the season,” said the skipper. “We’re through to the next round and that’s all that matters.
“And the kind of form we’re in at the minute I think we’ll take anyone on, but first and foremost we have Shamrock Rovers here in the league next and it’s a big game so we have to be ready for that.”
He’s experienced three FAI Cup finals and he’s anxious to make it a fourth this season, something which is obviously high on the agenda of the City coaching staff as well despite the toughest of draws.
“I suppose I got lucky in my first year in senior football and won the cup,” he smiled. “It’s a great day out. Decky was the manager back then and Deerso was playing as well.
"They keep driving into us how good a record Derry have in this competition and how good of a day out it is. Obviously everyone wants to get to the cup final but we’re not looking past the next round.”
“We take nothing for granted and just want to keep looking to achieve more. The boys who came off the bench did excellent against Wexford, Jack Malone, Darren Cole and Darren McCauley, they just gave us that extra boost whenever boys did start to tire.
"We’re through to the next round and we have a big squad so anyone could play at any moment. We kept going right ‘til the end and credit to Parky for pulling us out of a hole again.”