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Derry City’s return to the big time is now a formality

Mark McChrystal admits although it’s not 100 per cent official, it’s still a great feeling that Derry City are back in the Airtricity Premier Division, after they all but clinched the First Division title on Saturday night.

Having drawn 2-2 with Finn Harps on Friday evening, the Brandywell men are expected to travel to Monaghan United needing at least a draw to clinch the championship. United surprisingly suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at lowly Mervue United on Saturday, meaning City are now three points clear of Waterford United — with a more than handy nine-goal advantage.

“We are 99 per cent of the way to winning the league and that’s brilliant, but we want to finish the season on a high at Monaghan next week,” defender McChrystal said.

“I think it’s brilliant that Derry might be back up amongst the likes of Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and St Pat’s.

“Last season we were relegated, not because of footballing matters, but other things, but it’s now great that we’re back where we belong.

“We have to end the season in a professional manner; we also have to make sure we give our all because there are other teams like Waterford and Shelbourne, along with Monaghan, fighting for that play-off place.

“At one stage this season we were 12 points clear, bookmakers were paying out on us, but because of one thing or another that lead slipped away.

“But now thankfully it looks as though we have clinched the league, which is what we set out to do at the start of the season.

“We also don’t want to win the league on goal difference, so we have to make sure we put in a performance at Monaghan on Saturday.”

The Derry vice-captain admitted he and some team-mates had a little celebration with some supporters on Saturday night after the Monaghan result.

“We didn’t have too many drinks, because the league isn’t officially done and dusted just yet,” he said.

The ex-Lisburn Distillery centre-back knows that supporters will already be thinking about next season and he too can’t wait to face the big boys of League of Ireland football again.

“We have a young side and everyone will be wondering how well we can cope in the Premier Division. But it’s great and we want to finish on a high,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph