Derry City cup glory is Devine's ultimate ambition
The FAI Cup is a welcome change for Derry City tonight, the Candystripes travelling to Dublin to take on UCD (7.45pm).
They badly want to make up for losing out in the final of the Setanta All-Ireland Cup earlier this season and the prospect of playing their first match at the Aviva Stadium if they make the decider is an enticing one for manager Declan Devine.
“None of our players have ever played there so that’s quite an incentive for us going into this match,” he said.
“Everyone at the club was bitterly disappointed to lose out in the All-Ireland final and we want to go one step further by getting to the biggest cup final of the season,” he added.
Devine has resisted the temptation to rest key personnel for cup competitions this season — although given the injury problems he has had to deal with it has been hard to tell at times.
And the persistent injury to striker Rory Patterson, who had hoped to be fit for tonight’s encounter, has left the side a little short up front as new arrival Conor Murphy is cup-tied.
Derry have already a league victory at Belfield under their belts this season and are the favourites to go on and clinch their place in the quarter-finals.
Defensively they have looked much more secure since Stewart Greacen returned from injury and have managed two clean sheets in their last couple of league games.
Derry have a proud history in the FAI Cup but have not won the trophy in six years.
They were deeply embarrassed last season when then manager Stephen Kenny put out a severely understrength side which was outplayed and defeated in the second round by Wexford Youths.
With Simon Madden, Stephen McLaughlin and Patrick McEleney showing signs of being back to their best form, Derry should have enough in attack to see off the students, even without Patterson whose hamstring injury is becoming a grave cause for concern.
“We’re still hoping his injury isn’t as severe as we initially thought, but he is still going to miss a big chunk of the season,” Devine added.
“When you pull your hamstring once you are always prone to doing it again and that has been the case with him.”