Deery looking to end season on a high by lifting cup for Derry
FAI CUP FINAL Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic: Venue: Aviva Stadium Kick-off: 3.30pm On TV: RTÉ 2.
LIFTING THE FAI Cup at Lansdowne Road on Sunday would be a most memorable way to end a season that looked like it would be one to forget for Derry City captain Kevin Deery.
Five months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury percolated thoughts of retirement from the game at just 27 for the midfielder who has spent all his career at the Brandywell.
Simply being back playing has Deery insisting he’ll lead Derry out as relaxed as he could be for a major final. Winning the cup for a third time in his career would be an unexpectedly delightful way to bring the curtain down on 2012.
“This year feels a bit different to me because I’ve had a few down days,” said Deery. “I was out for five months, so it was very difficult. My whole feeling is of being nice and relaxed and looking forward to it because I feel very fortunate because of how bad my injury was. I had to have my [left] knee cap stitched, patella stabilising.
“Over the five months I had some bad days and I questioned whether it’s the right thing for me. I’m just glad to get back playing.
“I did,” he elaborated on thoughts he may have to quit. “It wasn’t feeling any stronger until late in rehab and at the stage we’re at now. I don’t know if my career was in jeopardy, I was just questioning it.
“I’ve been in and out through injury a few times in the last few years so you do question it when you’re down. I don’t think my career was in jeopardy, I was just wondering was it the right thing for me because I was that down.”
This is Deery’s fourth FAI Cup final, so it’s nothing new to the Creggan man. He’s more pleased for the lift it will give his home town and for the young players in the squad who are about to experience a final for the first time.
“I’m just delighted for the whole city and all those young boys. It’s great to get to the cup final. It’s been a hard year up here, finishing fifth in the league. So we look forward to Sunday.”
Deery, an unused substitute as a 17-year-old when Derry won the trophy a decade ago, missed a penalty in the shoot-out at the RDS in his last FAI Cup final as Bohemians beat Derry to win the double in 2008.
More memorably, he was part of the Derry side that came from behind three times to beat this Sunday’s opponents St Patrick’s Athletic 4-3 in the classic 2006 decider.
“I remember the weather,” said Deery of that gusty, wet day as the old Lansdowne Road hosted its last football match before redevelopment.
“It was the worst day ever. There was a gale force wind blowing and I remember talking to family members coming down saying they were nearly blown off the road in the bus.
“The game over-hyped the weather. It was a crazy game, we were behind three times. We’ll take that on Sunday again!” It may be a bit much to ask for a repeat, but with both sides willing and able to pass the ball, it promises to be another good quality game.
“I think both teams will go out and play,” agreed Deery. “Maybe St Pat’s are slight favourites. [But] We’ve got players back and we’re going down on the back of a couple of good wins.”
Turn up and make sure you don’t freeze on the day will be Deery’s message to Derry’s youngsters. “Don’t be beating yourself up afterwards that you don’t feel you showed up.
“Leave it out there,” he said.
“It definitely would be special,” he adds on the prospect of lifting the trophy as captain. “I’ve seen Pizza [Peter Hutton] doing it a few times.
“But I’ve said I’d sacrifice that so long as we win the cup. It wouldn’t bother me that I’m captain. I just want it for this city and for the fans after the doom and gloom there’s been . . . to finish off on a high on Sunday.”