WE SAT DOWN for a chat with Derry City captain Kevin Deery ahead of Sunday’s Ford FAI Cup final…
The club have had to deal with a string of injuries throughout the season but it looks like you’re getting important players back at the right time now, which must be good to see?
It’s been very fortunate that we’ve got 18 or 19 back for the final because all year we’ve been a wee bit depleted. It must be great for Declan and Paul to have a feeling that we’re going down with a squad.
We’ve had a wee bit of momentum in recent weeks and I’m just glad that we’ll have a full squad and there’ll be no excuse on the day.
When you’re down to 13 or 14 you have to drag people that haven’t been about the first team and young boys in. The morale goes down a wee bit so we’re fortunate.
It’s been an inconsistent season in terms of your league form. Are you disappointed with how it panned out?
You cannot be happy with our league position, first and foremost. I’ve missed a lot of the season and I can’t speak for the rest of them but finishing fifth? Not a lot of managers can say they’ve got to two cup finals in their first year in the job. Declan has to take great pride from that and push us on, he’s a Derry man himself.
You have managed to put together a good run in recent weeks, including the 3-0 semi-final replay win at Tolka Park…
We’ve shown we have character but at times we’ve definitely struggled at home. When teams sit back against us we’ve struggled for whatever reason being but the last couple of times we’ve come out with a mentality that we’ve to go and try to hurt teams. I had a feeling that the replay was going to suit us a bit better because Shels had to have a go at home.
As you’ve seen yourself, we picked them off a couple of times. It would be nice to do that again on Sunday and get goals on the counter. That’s not to say it’s our plan. It will be an entertaining game for all the neutrals, I’m sure of that.
Pat’s will be feeling the same. They haven’t won the cup in 51 years. We beat them in 2006 so it’s swings and roundabouts.
What are your memories of the past FAI Cup finals which Derry have featured in?
Bohemians in the RDS in 2008 was a bad memory. It was a drastic one for me. I missed a penalty. The one thing I remember is that I missed and they missed, where there was a bit of relief. But then we lost out and you look back and say if you score it’s a different penalty shootout.
I played in the semi-final in 2002 away to Cork and then sat on the bench at Tolka when we beat Shamrock Rovers. Liam Buckley was in charge at the time, coincidentally. We won that but I was 17-years-of-age so it was just an occasion for me. I didn’t get on or anything.
2006 was a good memory. I remember there being a terrible gale force wind on the day. It was a tremendous game between us and St Pat’s and we managed to win it.
The Derry players celebrate in 2006. Credit: INPHO/Donall Farmer
So now you face Pat’s again in the final. What are your thoughts on Sunday’s game?
If you had have asked me halfway through the season if we would be playing out an FAI Cup final I probably would’ve said ‘no’ but in terms of the last five weeks, we deserve to be there so we’ll go down on the day and turn up.
Let’s not just sit back, let’s push on. We’ve done that – away to Shamrock Rovers and at home to St Pat’s. That was a tough game and it’s going to be the same again at the Aviva.
The one thing I want us to do is turn up and have no excuses because there’ll be nothing worse than sitting in that dressing room knowing that you didn’t leave everything out there – so that’s all we can do. I still feel that realistically they’re favourites.
They finished a good few points ahead of us and they were excellent away to Sligo a couple of weeks ago. We have to look at their character and how they came back in that game. We know that if we go behind, we’ll have to keep plugging away and that they’ll do the same.
This team have already had the disappointment of losing a cup final this season (to Crusaders in the Setanta Cup). That must have been a tough one to take but can you learn from the experience?
I was injured and watching from the stand but being bluntly honest, I don’t think we deserved to win it. You can say you were a penalty kick away but I felt Crusaders deserved to win it. You make your own luck, you make your own breaks.
You have to store that in the back of your mind and think of how bad you felt when you lost it. That should help people along. I know that I don’t want the feeling I had in 2008 again. You have to use all the ammunition you can to bring the best out of yourself.
Is it important to bring a big crowd down to Dublin for the day?
We’ve had poor crowds up here at times but when you get to a cup final with Derry they’re great fans. They know how to enjoy themselves. I’m sure we’ll have our good few thousand down there. I hear it was 20-odd thousand at it last year and hopefully we can get that again. It’s steeped in tradition and is a wonderful cup and hopefully it lives up to the occasion.