Belfast Telegraph

Derry City 2 Cobh Ramblers1: Candystripes win chance to gain revenge on Blues

By Peter Hutcheon

David Jeffrey, for one, will be happy at Derry City's progress into next year's Setanta Cup.

The Linfield manager has come to relish his side's clashes with the Candystripes over the past couple of seasons which have produced a couple of classic encounters in which his side has yet to be bettered.

Derry's progression from last night's play-off with the new first division champions, Cobh, was never really in doubt despite conceding a second half goal which made it a bit more nerve-wracking than it should have been.

On this evidence Ramblers would have struggled had they made it through to the cross-border competition and this match was always a strange notion from that point of view.

Nonetheless it is a lifeline for City who came nowhere near qualification through the premier league and they will be delighted to be able to start the new season once again with a series of tough and meaningful games.

And they certainly feel they have unfinished business as far the Blues are concerned ? if they end up in the same group for the third successive season when the draw is made next year.

The irony for several of the players who got them there through last night's win may play no further role for City as manager John Robertson shakes things up, as he must, over the winter.

Already there were signs of the future with no place, even on the bench last night, for central defender Ken Oman or midfielder Killian Brennan. Oman is looking for a move to England but could head back down south while Brennan has been offered a new contract but has yet to sign.

His omission last night is not a good sign.

Derry had complete control of last night's game, two goals up inside half an hour, but they contrived to allow Cobh back into it and, on another night, it might have cost them.

The opener was pure Patrick McCourt as he flicked the ball over his head to open up huge amounts of space on the left wing which he covered in no time before hammering a shot in off the underside of James McCarthy's crossbar to give Derry the lead in the 16th minute.

McCarthy produced an excellent save in the 27th minute to deny McHugh, pushing the well-struck shot just past his upright. From that corner, though, McCourt flicked on Mark Farren's ball in towards the near post where Sean Hargan diverted it over the line to make it 2-0.

McCarthy was called upon to make a brave save at Ciaran Martyn's feet just a minute later but after that City seemed happy to sit back.

And they paid the price in the 62nd minute Davin O'Neill burst through on the left side of the City area from further out than where McCourt had been for the opener, and blasted an even more fiercely struck shot over Pat Jennings to make it 2-1.

There was no real sense of urgency from the visitors in the closing stages which suggests they are more than happy to sit out the Setanta Cup and take their re-introduction to the higher ranks at a steadier pace.

The one sour note of the evening for Derry was yet another injury to Patrick McCourt, who was stretchered off early in the second half and was subsequently taken to Altnagelvin Hospital for an X-ray on his ankle.

But at least, on this occasion, after a season blighted by one niggle after another, he has plenty of time to recover.

DERRY CITY: Jennings, McCallion, Hargan, Hutton, Martyn, McHugh, McGlynn (Harkin 90), Deery, Molloy, Farren, McCourt (Higgins 53).

COBH RAMBLERS: McCarthy, Mulconry, J Meade, Murray, Guthrie, Barrett, O'Neill, Kearney (King 75), O'Reilly, Cummins (C Meade 53), Cambridge (Coleman 68).

REFEREE: Thomas Connolly, Dublin.

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