THE FUTURE of Derry City Football Club is in safe hands if the 2012 Pat Harkin Cup Final is anything to go by as the Brandywell outfit’s exciting Academy side simply blew away their opposition at the Showgrounds on Thursday night.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The gifted young ‘Candy Stripes’ lifted the prestigious summer cup trophy for the second time in three years after a dominant performance against Brandywell Harps as the large attendance were treated to a deluge of goals in the driving rain.
Talented midfielder, Aaron Harkin, quite fittingly, stole the show with a superbly taken first half hat-trick which ultimately shattered any hopes Brandywell Harps had of causing an upset.
Derry City’s Academy coaches, Hugh Harkin and John Quigg and Head of Youth Development, Eddie Seydak continue to devlop their young stars of the future and the trio will have been delighted with what they witnessed as their troops simply out-classed their opponents for large periods of the game.
A notable spectator at the Showgrounds was Derry City Assistant coach, Paul Hegarty and he will also be pleased with what he saw, with several fringe members of the first team squad strutting their stuff.
Brandywell Harps did manage to keep themselves in the contest when forcing an own goal from Ciaran Villa and second half substitute, Martin Doherty but they never managed to get within two goals of their opponents after Michael Duffy registered the Candy Stripes’ third on 18 minutes.
Before that City had made a blistering start to the showpiece and caught Harps napping just 50 seconds after kick-off when Harkin ghosted in from the right side unchallenged before striking low into the corner of the net from 25 yards.
Harps keeper, Eamon Gallagher should possibly have made a better effort to save but he badly misjudged the accuracy of the shot and it crept in at the near post.
It was as bad a start as Harps could imagine but they could have restored parity 10 minutes later when Damien McGee played Paul Moore into space on the right and when the striker sent an inviting ball across the face of the goalmouth, Dan McFadden was unable to connect at the back post.
And they were immediately made to rue that missed chance as Harkin once again struck to double Derry’s advantage.
Michael Duffy sent Sean Curran scampering clear on the left flank and his cross into the six yard area was met by Harkin whose shot deflected off the body of Gallagher before nestling into the net.
Three minutes later Harps were thrown a lifeline when Moore cut his cross back and with McFadden looming large at the front post, Villa sent his looping defensive clearance over the head of Ferry and into the net.
Normal service was resumed on 18 minutes in an almost carbon copy of Derry’s opening strike. Duffy was given time and space 20 yards from goal and he found the bottom corner with an excellent strike much to the despair of Gallagher.
And right on the stroke of half-time Harps’ hearts were broken again when Harkin was adjudged to have been fouled on the edge of the area to the disbelief of the Brandywell bench.
And the midfielder stepped up to curl the resultant free-kick around the wall and into the net to complete a superb hat-trick.
All was not lost, however, as Harps reduced the deficit to two when substitute, Martin Doherty rose highest to powerfully head Darren Coyle’s corner into the net.
Any hopes of a revival were dashed with 15 minutes remaining as the influential Barry McNamee completed an outstanding break when slotting Duffy’s cross past a helpless Gallagher.
From then on it was a matter of playing the game out and the deflated Harps players were relieved to hear the final whistle in the end.
The committee of Brandywell Harps Football Club wish to thank all their sponsors for their continued support in the running of the 34th Pat Harkin Memorial Cup.
And the committee acknowledge the support of the Rocking Chair Bar, Waterloo St, and Willie McCrudden Centra, Culmore Road, Donal Harkin Windows 2000, McBride’s Racing, Badgers, Orchard St, Derry City Football Club, The Grove Dairy Castlederg, Paedar O’Donnell’s Bar, Alec Orr Motor factors, The Bluebell Bar, Jobby’s Sports Shop, McDermott and McGurk and Derry City Council for the use of the showgrounds pitch and the Council groundsmen for their work during the tournament.
Thanks also to Sinn Fein councillor, Patrica Logue for making the presentation, Tom Brolly contractor for the trophies and finally, the officials Noel Moore, Marty Dunne and Charlie Kelpie.
Derry City - Eugene Ferry; Luke McGeehan, Sean Curran, Caoimhin Bonnar, Conor Barr; Ciaran Villa, Aaron Harkin, Barry McNamee, Tony McNamee, Michael Duffy; Ryan Curran; Subs - Gareth Breslin, Daryl Brown, Conor Harkin, Kevin Barr.
Brandywell Harps - Eamon Gallagher; James Melly, Stephen Melly, Ryan Toland, Gary Melly; Damian McGee., Darren Coyle, Dan McIntrye, Raymond Rogan,; Darren McFadden, Paul Moore; Subs - Blaine McDaid, Sean McCabe, Joe McCallion, Martin Doherty, William McVeigh.
Referee - Martin Dunne.