Friday 23 February 2018

McLaughlin on double to keep Derry dream alive

Shelbourne 0 Derry City 3
FAI Ford Cup semi-final replay

Cian O'Connell

In a season disturbed by injuries, Derry City have found comfort in the Cup and they can look forward to a final date with St Patrick's Athletic on November 4 after crushing Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

Shelbourne had Alan Mathews' usual cocktail of aggression and honesty, but this match simply belonged to Derry's Stephen McLaughlin, who summoned a dynamic display dripping with class and conviction.

It has been quite a decade for Derry wingers with McLaughlin the latest to find prominence following polished players like Paddy McCourt, Niall McGinn, and James McClean.

Unsurprisingly the early stages were more about tension than talent as the significance of the fixture wasn't lost on anybody. That made it fast and physical initially with the occasional Paddy Kavanagh flicker providing the locals with some encouragement.

Derry were gritty and determined, too, as Kevin Deery and Barry Molloy's central midfield guile kept them probing. Shels were certainly more direct eager to utilise Philly Hughes and Paul Byrne's power and they were nearly rewarded in the 20th minute.

Kavanagh manufactured space in the area and his delivery was controlled by Kevin Dawson, who was unable to hit the target under duress.

Shels' set-pieces were causing Derry problems too and David Cassidy's 29th-minute corner was met by a firm Andy Boyle header which Patrick McEleney did well to hook off the line.

The woodwork came to Derry's rescue in the 34th minute when Stephen Paisley's clearance spilled favourably for Kevin Dawson, and the industrious Shels midfielder unleashed a blistering low drive which thumped the inside of the post as Derry survived a real scare.

Opportunities were arriving thick and fast with Patrick McEleney thwarted by the crossbar in the 39th minute as Derry sought to land a blow themselves. And on the stroke of half-time that is exactly what the Candystripes did.

Simon Madden drove forward on the right evading a couple of challenges and his crisp cross elicited panic in the Shels defence with McLaughlin taking advantage to sweep Derry ahead.

After the restart Shels strained every sinew trying to net a leveller but Derry came close to adding a second on the hour mark when Barry McNamee's free-kick curled narrowly wide. Moments later another Shels lapse in concentration was ruthlessly punished.

Glorious

Stewart Greacen outmuscled David Cassidy and the defender hooked the ball forward to the splendid McLaughlin. The 22-year-old cut inside from the left before slamming a glorious effort beyond the despairing lunge of Chris Bennion.

Derry could scarcely believe their luck five minutes later when David McDaid scampered clear away from Bennion to nudge the visitors three ahead.

Putting a semblance of respectability on the scoreline was Shels' objective from then on, but Derry were content to keep things tight at the back where Shane McEleney was effective alongside Greacen. Sufficient damage had been inflicted and Derry confidently closed the deal.

Shelbourne -- Bennion; Ryan, Boyle, Paisley, S Byrne; Cassidy (C Byrne 83), Cronin, Dawson, Kavanagh; P Byrne (Gorman 67), Hughes.

Derry City -- Doherty; Madden, Greacen, S McEleney, McCaffrey; P McEleney, Deery (Brolly 86), Molloy, McLaughlin; McNamee (Higgins 68); McDaid.

Ref -- A Buttimer

Irish Independent

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