David Cooke* 35' -
Derry went on to win the competition for the fourth year running with a facile victory over Wexford Youths. Having gained a bye to this round, this is their first outing of the year in what many Candystripe fanatics now refer to as the Derry City Trophy. Having won the cup nine times in the competition's 35-year history, five clear of next-best Dundalk, it is hard to argue with them.
Galway have already had to dig deep to get to this stage, needing penalties to overcome a stubborn challenge from Salthill Devon in the opening round. A comfortable 2-0 lead turned into a sweaty period of extra-time following late goals by the Seasiders.
Both sides had morale boosting wins on Friday night following some recent indifferent form, with Galway recording their second home win of the season and Derry getting back to winning ways in Drogheda. A salient note was Mark Farren's return to form, as he completed 90 minutes for the first time this season and bagged a hat-trick in the process. Farren has scored all four of his goals against Drogheda this year, and also enjoys facing the maroon jerseys of Galway United., having scored twice against them last year.
The first league encounter between the sides this year ended all-square as Seamus Conneely cancelled out Thomas Stewart's opener on a night when Barry Ryan was by far the busier of the two 'keepers. Derry were seen by most as Bohemians most likely challengers for the title but have now been usurped in second spot by a resurgent Cork City. A season defining clash at the Brandywell awaits on Friday night, a meeting with the league leaders which could leave Derry eight points adrift were they to lose. In those circumstances, it will be interesting to see how many first team regulars will be risked this afternoon.
Ian Foster intimated on Friday night that he would put out his strongest available selection, one which will be without Sean Kelly for a number of weeks following knee ligament damage sustained on Friday. Michael McGrath, omitted for disciplinary reasons on Friday night, may make a return, while John Russell should continue his return towards full match fitness with another appearance.
With a new sponsor on board, a home win today may further reinvigorate a competition which may have gone slightly stale due to Derry's recent dominance. However, the size and depth of quality in the squad that Stephen Kenny has at his disposal will more than likely see them through, though don't rule out the chance of extra time and penalties before the issue is decided.