Setanta Sports Cup: Derry City victory would mark amazing turn in fortunes
The Setanta Sports Cup Final is a fascinating battle between two sides who have a long and proud history — but that history has not always made pretty reading.
Crusaders have always been known as a ‘wee club from the Shore Road’, fighting in the shadow of their more illustrious and richer neighbours across the city.
In recent seasons they have also felt the chill wind of the recession as income has dwindled.
Derry City’s history has been shaped by the years of sectarian conflict that blighted the province.
Their Irish League adventure ended on Friday, October 13, 1972 but 13 years later they took up residence again at the Brandywell and applied to join the League of Ireland.
And the Candystripes’ more recent history is a painful read as they were expelled from the League of Ireland by the FAI in November 2009 after drowning in a sea of debt.
City had to win back pride from the First Division and they have achieved that goal.
A Setanta Sports Cup success would write a more glorious chapter in the troubled club’s history so, despite their uninspiring league form, their motivation to triumph in east Belfast tomorrow is not in question.
Midfielder Barry Molloy (pictured), who is likely to captain the team in place of the injured Kevin Deery, said: “The club went out of existence more or less two years ago. Last year we got to a League Cup Final which was a massive occasion for us but this is the biggest one so far for us.
“To do this two years after what happened at the club is an amazing achievement.
“Winning an all-Ireland competition two years after being thrown out of the league would be a huge thing for the fans and players.
“All the teams from the north will probably be backing Crusaders while the south will get behind Derry City.
“It makes for a great encounter and there’ll be a big support up from Derry.
“It will be a good atmosphere at the game and it should be a special occasion.
“I think it’s good there’s two different finalists this year. Shamrock Rovers, Cork City, Drogheda United and Linfield have been strong.
Two clubs with passionate supporters have made the final and it’s a refreshing change.
“It’s good to have both associations represented in the final.”
The 28-year-old is not taking any encouragement from Crusaders’ failure to rise to the occasion against Linfield in last weekend’s Irish Cup Final.
“I think it will make them more determined to win,” he added.
“They will be hurting from that cup defeat and they will be looking to bounce back.
“This will be their last game of the season and they will be looking to go out on a high. This game is a great opportunity for them to do that.
“In the cup competitions we have done very well. Over two legs against Linfield and Shamrock Rovers we played very well and battled very hard.
“Hopefully, Saturday can give us a springboard to start playing a lot better in the league.
“Winning trophies breeds confidence and gives everyone a lift. By winning an all-Ireland trophy it will lift spirits going into the next few games.
“But Crusaders are a very good side. Any team that can beat Sligo Rovers over two legs deserves respect because Sligo are probably the best footballing side in the country.
“They have a lot of ability in their team and they also have a lot of matchwinners we are going to have to keep an eye on.”