Malone striving to help Derry seize Euro initiative
Jack Malone is hoping to help Derry City take a significant step towards European football next season when Cork City come to the Brandywell this evening.
The Candystripes sit two points behind third-placed Bohemians in the race for European qualification but they play their one game in hand tonight when a victory will leave their fate in their own hands with only four matches remaining.
Everyone's focus is now on three points and third place, and teenager Malone, who made his first senior start against Bohemians last week, is hoping to play a key role.
"I was hoping that I would get a start before the end of the season," he said.
"Every game is massive, so whatever team Decky (boss Declan Devine) picks we all just have to keep going. Everyone is fighting for places at the minute which is good. Competition is good and that's what we need at this stage of the season.
"We've had a tough couple of games and hopefully we can get back to winning ways and climb back up the table.
"You can't take Cork for granted, and we don't take anyone for granted, because if you do you just get turned over. Hopefully we can get the three points and give a good performance as well for all the fans."
The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster for 19-year-old Malone, who missed a penalty in the heartbreaking EA Sports League Cup final shoot-out loss to Dundalk before receiving a standing ovation against Bohs last week.
"That was nice," he continued. "Obviously being young it was hard missing the penalty but that's just part and parcel of football. When I came off last week I got a good reception from the fans and that means a lot being from Derry myself.
"The fans have been class all year and hopefully they can do the same in the last couple of games to help make sure we get a good finish to the season."
Malone is seen as part of the future of the club, which has enjoyed a significant upturn in fortunes since the return of Declan Devine as manager last year. The young midfielder is excited to be part of a project which is still in its early stages.
"There are young local lads there and boys coming through from the academy, and you have boys like Ciaron Harkin, Mickey McCrudden and Darren McCauley. There's local players here and that's crucial for every team so next season will hopefully be better again," he added.
Jamie McDonagh will miss tonight's game through suspension, while Darren McCauley will undergo a late fitness test after suffering a concussion against Dundalk.