City's final chance to give fans something to cheer
The success or failure of their season depends upon Derry City's performance against Bohemians in tonight's League Cup final at the Brandywell (8pm).
Manager John Robertson is adamant that, even though the competition was probably fourth on the club's list of priorities at the start of the year, lifting a trophy will mean everything to them.
"It will give the fans something to celebrate and that's worth a great deal," he said.
"The big prizes in football are winning finals and that means winning this game.
"But it's not going to be easy and Bohemians will come here with a strong team.
"We've been putting in good performances even if the results haven't quite reflected that recently, but we're confident."
At stake is more than just the trophy which Derry have made more or less their own in the past few years.
The winners of this competition will play the first division champions in a play-off to finalise the line-up for next year's Setanta Cup competition.
After a run of three consecutive league defeats Derry have no chance of qualifying for that competition through the league, but victory tonight could mean a game against current first division leaders Finn Harps, which would be quite an occasion in its own right.
Robertson has a better hand to play than in any of his recent outings with Kevin McHugh, Barry Molloy, Ken Oman and Ciaran Martyn all available, while Paddy McCourt played on Friday night against Waterford, scoring Derry's goal in their 2-1 defeat.
Injuries have played a large part in Derry's recent poor run with Robertson forced to switch the side around. And with strikers Sammy Morrow and Gary Beckett both ruled out his options are limited up front this evening.
McHugh will once again partner Mark Farren in attack but although both players have their strong points, the partnership between them has never been the strongest.
Derry will be going for their third League Cup win in a row and full back Eddie McCallion says that that on its own is motivation for the players.
"The League Cup has been a good competition to us over the years and we would love to make it a hat-trick of wins," he said.
"The pressure will be on us as the holders and being at home, but we'll have our fans behind us.
"It's been a been a disappointing season and we haven't performed as we would have liked.
"But we have a chance of winning a trophy. It's a great opportunity for us."
Whatever happens this evening, though, one thing is clear - there will be changes at the end of the season.
"I can see a shake-up but not major changes because there are some talented players here," Robertson said.
"I've always felt we have too many midfielders and we need a couple more defenders and strikers."