TIMING can be critical when it comes to the cup and for Derry City boss Declan Devine everything seems to be crystallising just in time for Sunday's semi-final with Shelbourne.
After a run of five straight league defeats, Devine was coming under fire, but Tuesday's 4-0 win over Dundalk and the return of some senior stars mean the Candystripes have a huge component for success: momentum.
"I've always said that when we get a few of our senior players back that we could be a match for anyone," he said. "Stephen McLaughlin is as good a player that's in the league and Kevin Deery is as good a midfielder that's around. It's been a huge disappointment in terms of players missing out but maybe they are coming back at the right time."
Due to tightening purse strings Devine was forced to thin his squad, and his decision to opt for a small side with lots of quality back-fired in the middle part of the season.
"I feel that we realised we had to work off a smaller squad in terms of finances and we decided to work off a small squad of experienced players rather than a bigger squad in terms of having more numbers but less quality," he added. "Our budget had been cut and we decided we needed to keep our better players. So when you have a squad of 16 players and when five of those get injured you're really down numbers.
"Young players have been given an opportunity maybe a little earlier than they should have, but they are seeing the benefit of it, players like Barry McNamee."
"It was always going to be a year of transition for Derry, given the departure of Stephen Kenny and a number of senior players from last season. Don't forget, at the start of this campaign we lost James McClean, Daniel Rafferty, Eamon Zayed and Gareth McGlynn and they brought 54 goals last season.
"It's my first year in management. I was always going to get my eyes opened and it is a big step for me so it would be very rewarding if we could push on and win on Sunday and top off a disappointing league campaign at the Aviva.
"I'm feeling great, I'm looking forward to the game and it's an opportunity to remind people how big a club we are and we want the Derry public to come out and support us.
"It's an opportunity to get back to where we think we should be -- competing for titles -- and I can't wait. If you don't look forward to semi-finals there is something drastically wrong with you."