Sunday 4 December 2016

Candystripes have fitness advantage for replay, insists McBride

Published 04/10/2016 | 02:30

Ryan McBride:
Ryan McBride: "I thought we played well and if it had gone on another 5-10 minutes, I think we'd have won the match." Photo: Sportsfile

Derry City defender Ryan McBride feels that his team were in better physical shape than Dundalk at the end of their first FAI Cup semi-final on Sunday.

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But, ahead of tonight's replay at the Brandywell, the Candystripes stalwart is conscious that Stephen Kenny's side could be a tougher opponent because they are a superior side on grass.

Derry came from two goals behind to force a draw in the lively first meeting with a Lilywhites team featuring eight changes from the selection that defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League last Thursday.

Kenny has admitted that he will have to look at rotating his options ahead again of a punishing schedule.

For Derry, on the other hand, the fact that Cork beat St Patrick's Athletic in the other semi-final has taken some of the pressure out of their race for third in the league with Shamrock Rovers.

Even if they lose tonight, a cup final between top two Dundalk and Cork means that fourth spot in the Premier Division will secure European football for next year.

McBride and his colleagues want a medal, though, and their season ultimately hinges on this encounter.

"I thought we were the fitter team on Sunday," he said, "I know they made a few changes but they had a few lads cramping up. I thought we played well and if it had gone on another 5-10 minutes, I think we'd have won the match.

"Europe is our big objective. Cork beating Pat's means it's hopefully us in Europe unless we throw it away. But we'd like to go to the Aviva," he added, referencing Kenny Shiels' decision to show his group a video of Derry's 2012 victory over St Pat's in the decider ahead of their quarter-final in Wexford.

"It got the young lads thinking about a big day out," said McBride, who may have to sit this one out after tweaking his groin at Oriel following a stint on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, former Dundalk midfielder Richie Towell is on the comeback trail from a complicated knee injury that has prevented him from making an impact in his first full season at Brighton.

"I've started running again, and the knee feels strong. I am now looking forward to coming back and training with the lads," said the Dubliner. "I had a hole in the back of my knee which was unusual, and I had a cyst there too, so it was a lot worse than I thought.

"It was quite big and a bit of the cartilage had gone too. Luckily enough, it seems to have healed.

"I just need to progress gradually and do a bit more running with a change of direction. Then they'll let me play back in a game, because I'm dying to be involved again and it's been a long time."

Irish Independent

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