GERARD Doherty rendered the heroics once again for the Candy Stripes on Friday night against St.Patrick’s Atheltic at the Brandywell in FAI Cup.
We’ve all seen it by now. Gerard Doherty dives to his left, only to deliver a 95th-minute penalty save with his right foot, after Ian Turner put it straight down the middle.
Unbelievable, especially for us sports reporters, who had our match reports all but finished on Friday night.
The Derry City goalkeeper contributed his third penalty save of the season to reject Liam Buckley’s side extra-time and an opportunity in the last eight of the competition – City racing out 1-0 winners.
“I don’t care if the game would’ve been 5-4, we just need a victory tonight,” Doherty said.
For the second time this season the Derry City goalie, who turned 38 on Friday, made a huge save against St. Patrick’s Athletic – the first coming against Killian Brennan on July 27.
“We were under the cosh, trying to see the game out. But as we all know, it doesn’t work like that.
“The other team is going to get a half chance and unlucky for us, I’m not sure, I think Dan (Seaborne) was waiting for me to come and get it, while I was waiting for him to clear it, and long and behold, there is a bit of drama in the last kick of the game. Fortunately, they never scored it,” he added.
In a bizarre night, that had been considerably grotesque to watch, Doherty’s save was a thing of beauty – the Derry native using his trailing right-foot to spray the ball away from goal.
He had help from bench, though.
“To be honest, I was just looking over at the bench to see if anybody had any information because I did that the last time and it seemed to work,” he confessed.
“So, to be fair, I looked over at Eric Grimes and I knew that he had played with the fella at Cork (City) and he was shouting, ‘Down the middle, down the middle’ but I had to dive one-way and I knew if I stuck a foot or a hand out, I’d have a chance and, lucky enough, that’s what happened.”
The veteran goalkeeper isn’t one for shying away from the hard questions, being all but happy to admit that the players sat down to speak a few hard truths to each other following last weeks defeat to Waterford in front of a dwindling Derry faithful.
“I think it’s something that we needed – the place (Brandywell) hasn’t been like that for a while, we needed that buzz,” Doherty said.
“The players were working hard and after last week, when we were so disappointed with ourselves, overall, as a whole club, we sat down and we were honest with each other,” he added.
“We changed a couple of things this week and surely that can give the boys a bit of confidence.”
An erratic league campaign has proved costly with an automatic place in Europe next season looking like a far-flung dream.
However, with a chance to obtain silverware in three weeks and a place in the quarter-final’s of the FAI Cup, the national cup front has been a nourishing factor in the Lone Moor Road outfits season.
“That’s the thing, we are inconsistent in the league, I don’t know why, but it’s not as if we go out and we try and play bad one week and good the other week.
“But tonight we strung two good halves together and I think we managed the game well, I thought.”
Doherty and Co will now look to build off the back of that nail-biting victory this Friday when they play Bohemians, their FAI Cup last eight opponents, at the Brandywell in league action.