There are still some East Stand tickets remaining for Friday night’s match. Kick-off is at 8pm.
Was Drogheda a similar feeling to Sligo in the dressing room afterwards with another late goal conceded?
“We were all disappointed as a group because it was the second week on the bounce that we conceded very, very late in the game. We were obviously disappointed to concede so late, even though we were down to nine men.”
What did you think of our first-half performance?
“I liked the performance. So much of it was really good. Like in Sligo, we created six really good chances throughout the game with a few in the second half. The sending-off changed it but I was happy with it.”
We had a great spell at the start of the second half and again it was Graham Burke with the goal. Was that no more than our play and pressure deserved?
“I think that was coming from the first half when we played really well. You could see we were grinding them down, getting closer and closer and then in the second half, we started really bright and made a number of opportunities. Then Graham scored again, which is always nice to see.”
Lee Grace hit the crossbar but you felt that we probably should have killed the game off before the red cards?
“We should have if you’re being critical – outside of the players being sent off – we definitely need to be more ruthless in the box when we get those opportunities. We’d hit the post, Lee hit the crossbar and Dan had a chance as well. I felt that we were really in control and if we were more ruthless and scored another goal, it’s game over but at 1-0, it’s always game on.”
What was your view of Lee and Dan’s sending offs?
“Lee’s is two yellows. I know he slips for the first one but it’s still a booking and the second is a really silly challenge from Lee and he knows it straight away. It’s very unlike him, a player of his quality and experience but Dan’s, as I said on the night is really poor. He got booked for timewasting and it wasn’t Dan. I think the ref acted too quickly and should have taken advice from his linesman and the fourth official. He didn’t and as a result, he’s sent off for the second, which is a booking, but we’re disappointed with Dan’s one.”
It’s not ideal to be missing three centre halves due to suspension on Friday. Are you forced to shuffle things around in defence for what is such a big game?
“We’re obviously down a couple of bodies and we’ve had injuries in that area as well. We’ve had players sent off, that’s on us so no excuses. It is what it is. We’ve given the referee a decision to make in the last two weeks and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. But we have a strong group, a strong squad so it’s time now for other players to come in and get working, and I’ve no doubt they’ll do that.”
Sean Gannon did really well on his return in Drogheda. Are Sean Hoare, Sean Kavanagh and Ronan Finn ready yet?
“We’re not sure on all three. Even Sean Gannon’s comeback in Drogheda was very early for him. We didn’t want him to play a part in the game but obviously the way things played out we had to get him on. Sean, with his experience, did really well. I’m glad he came through that game alright but the others, Ronan is the more serious of the three but we’ll have to check on them this morning and see how they’re getting on.”
We met Derry in the President’s Cup recently but our first home game of the season will be a bigger occasion and do you sense a lot of excitement around it?
“It’s our first home game so we’re looking forward to it. We’ve been away with the work going on in the stadium so we had to wait to have this first competitive game at home since winning the league. It feels like a long time, so we’re all looking forward to going out in front of our home fans and hopefully putting on a performance and getting the three points. I’m sure it’ll be a sell-out, two good teams, the pitch is always perfect, so it has all the makings to be a really good game.”
To sell over 4,000 season tickets is extraordinary support, especially when you look at the increase in numbers since the first year you became manager?
“It’s incredible. When we first came in the average crowd was really poor and the season tickets weren’t good at all. It was something that we made a conscious decision as a club to try and improve. There are so many factors that go into the club selling over 4,000 season tickets. There are so many people that need to take credit for their part in that. It’s a massive effort from everyone involved in the club and a massive thank you to the fans for their support for the club and the team. We know how important that is, we’ve seen that over the years and we’re going to need every one of them this year if we’re going to be successful. It’s incredible, and we feel that support in the dressing room, as a group, so a massive thank you to each and every one of them.”