Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Kenny's joy as Derry book their place in Europe

St Pat's Athletic 1-1 Derry City: Derry City manager Stephen Kenny has labelled the Candystripes return to European football as ‘unbelievable’.

A 1-1 draw against St. Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin last night secured third place in the Airtricity Premier Division and sealed a place in the Europa League for next season.

Given that the club almost folded and suffered the ignominy of demotion to the First Division, their rise to the top of the game again is remarkable, with fans dreaming of more glory nights.

Back in 2006, under Kenny’s guidance, City defeated Gothenburg and Gretna before a never to be forgotten clash with French giants Paris St Germain and they will hope to follow in the footsteps of Shamrock Rovers by making a big impact in the Europa League next season.

“Securing European football for next season is unbelievable considering where the club was two seasons go,” said Kenny.

“To win the First Division and now this season win the EA Sports Cup and finish third in the Premier Division is fantastic.”

Having gone behind to a Sean O’Connor goal on the half hour mark at Richmond Park, City got back on level terms with 17 minutes to go thanks to Stephen McLaughlin.

A point was all they needed but disaster seemed to have struck in the final minute when Ryan McBride gave away a penalty but Stephen Bradley missed and moments later the Derry celebrations could begin.

“The players have gone on a tremendous run, only one defeat in 21 games — that’s a great achievement,” added Kenny.

“It was a massive result for us and the run is testament to the players and they deserve great credit.

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