Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Brandywell dates are the curse of students

UCD were cursing their luck as the quarter-final draw of the eircom League Cup sent them to face Derry City at the Brandywell.

The Dublin students arrive in Derry tonight for the semi-final of the eircom League Cup, 7.45pm.

Derry have been in such excellent form at home over the past couple of weeks, scoring three goals in each of the last two games there against Longford Town and Bray Wanderers, that UCD would have been much happier with at least one of the games at Belfield.

Last night's draw was perfect for City as they seek to continue their defence and make sure of a place in Europe for next season.

They avoided the bigger clubs with St Patrick's Athletic at home to Bohemians in the most eye-catching tie, Waterford at home to Cork City and the two outsiders, Longford Town at home to Limerick 37.

The League Cup, which City also won last year, isn't quite as important to City but nonetheless manager John Robertson would love to make sure of a trophy in his first season in charge.

And with his side firm favourites to at least go on to reach the final tonight, another final appearance is the main aim at this stage.

"We are one of only four teams who can win this competition and I came to the Brandywell to win things," he said.

"They have one of the best strikers in the league in Connor Salmon and we know they won't make it easy for us."

Robertson is likely to send out as strong a team as possible for this evening's tie with Patrick McCourt, Ciaran Martyn and Eddie McCallion all available once again after missing the 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the Brandywell on Friday evening.

Darren Kelly is still available for selection after he returned to play his first non-European game since asking for a transfer.

Negotiations with Scottish clubs have stalled for the former Northern Ireland under-21 international, who is contracted to Derry until the end of next season.

Robertson has always been keen to keep hold of Kelly and his return to the team is at the very least a boost in the short term and possibly for a little longer.

Robertson has been delighted with the partnership strikers Kevin McHugh and Sammy Morrow have struck up since the Scotsman arrived at the Brandywell as one of his first signings.

It was Peter Hutton who opened the scoring with one of his occasional forays forward but the strikers weighed in with one apiece, Morrow's the pick of them with a 25-yard lob from the touchline.

"I don't think you would call it a number one striking partnership because we have three fantastic strikers," he said.

"It is unfortunate for Mark Farren that the other two are playing so well at the moment that he's starting on the bench.

"But he will get his chance and when that happens there will be another striker who feels he is unlucky.'

Morrow had a slightly troubled start to his career at City but it didn't take him long to settle down and City look a much more threatening side for his presence up front.

The return of Ciaran Martyn to central midfield after his loan spell in Iceland has also had a positive effect.

Meanwhile centre half Ken Oman has been linked to a move to Celtic when he contract expires at the end of the season.

And former City boss Stephen Kenny is also interested in taking the Dubliner to Dunfermline.

Oman is currently in negotiations with City over a new contract.

A report in a local Derry paper this morning said Celtic were interested in signing the lanky centre half.

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