WHEN Derry City lost the Setanta Cup final on penalties to Crusaders at the Oval in Belfast, the general consensus had it that the Candystripes didn’t deserve to win anyway. They had played poorly, fans claimed, and deservedly succumbed to the hungrier team.
And while it may be true that Crusaders displayed much more passion and focus than Derry to win on the day, Declan Devine’s men have every right to feel aggrieved.
It is often said that the mark of a successful team comes when you can win games despite not playing particularly well, or dazzling the opposition.
So, although they did not take a hold of the game by the scruff of the neck it is true that Derry City were on course to win the game with 4 minutes to go.
That is, of course, until wily attacker David Rainey bulldozed goalkeeper Ger Doherty to the ground, leaving Crusaders’ captain Colin Coates with a wide open net to head into, ensuring extra-time was needed.
Derry City players erupted in disbelief as the referee and linesman deemed the collision between Rainey and Doherty legitimate and allowed the goal.
In another game, on another day, the goal would have been disallowed and Derry would have lifted the all-Ireland trophy for the first time in their history.
The implications of the cup final defeat have yet to register but, having invested so much into the competition and to come away empty handed, it is sure to have negative effects on team morale.
After the game, Declan Devine put on a brave face when an interviewer quizzed him as to how difficult a job it will be to resurrect Derry’s season.
“Well, it’s my job,” he stated sternly, “there’s a very flat dressing room in there at the minute and it’s my job to get them ready for the game in Gortakeegan [against Monaghan] in three days” concluded Devine.
Derry have now lost four games in the league and find themselves in eighth position, and in Monaghan, they are due to face a team that is rooted at the bottom of the table.
However, a major concern for City fans is the utterly abysmal run of form that the club has been experiencing, which won’t be aided by the manner of defeat on Saturday evening.
Following the Setanta Cup final defeat, Derry have not won in five games and they have not won a game in the league since the home victory over Cork – towards the end of March.
Roddy Collins’ team has yet to win a game at home this season but if they are to get anything from the game, the Derry players will need to put their Setanta woes behind them when they travel to Gortakeegan on Tuesday.