Monday 18 December 2017

Belief ringing through 'Bell

No1 McNulty backs Bluebell to beat Derry

THE boys from Bluebell United didn't park the bus in front of goal when they took on Derry City in the FAI Cup last Friday night – simply getting the bus to Derry was an issue as their team coach broke down on the way and they needed a bit of roadside rescue.

And while the Dublin club's "reward" for a 0-0 draw against the FAI Cup holders is a second trip to Derry for tonight's replay, Bluebell believe they can take the game to Derry City and leave any negative thoughts back home in Dublin as they try to seal a place in the last eight.

"We didn't go up there on Friday for a day out and we didn't go there to sit back and defend, we went to try and win the game and get into the quarter-finals and we'll try and do the same again tonight," says Bluebell 'keeper Andy McNulty.

"If we play like we did on Friday and maybe have a bit more of a clinical edge in terms of finishing then we'll have every chance of knocking Derry out and making it into the last eight."

Because Bluebell surrendered home advantage for their third round tie with Derry and opted to play that match at the Brandywell, the venue remains the same for the replay this evening, Derry technically the home side now.

The final whistle after the 0-0 draw was greeted by boos from the local fans who have now seen City go six games at the Brandywell without a win but at least Derry boss Declan Devine was able to prepare for the replay tonight without too much stress, and no travel worries (unlike the Finn Harps squad who had to make an 860km round trip to play Cobh Ramblers last night).

Not the case for Bluebell boss Andy Noonan, who spent much of yesterday on the phone trying to arrange time off work for his players so they could travel to Derry for the second time in five days. "We all had to do a bit of begging and grovelling in work so we could get the day off," says former Bohemians 'keeper McNulty, who works full time with Airtricity.

"Hopefully we'll be able to have a full squad for the Derry game, because if we have our strongest team out I have no doubt we'll give Derry a game.



"It's a big ask, having to travel to Derry again just a few days after the first game but I think we can deal with it. Most of the lads had never played in the Brandywell before but we dealt with it well and no one was put off their game," added McNulty, whose spell with Bohs under Aaron Callaghan makes him – along with Trevor Molloy and Mark Rooney – one of the more experienced players in Andy Noonan's line-up.

"We had great chances to score. Tony Griffiths, Shane Stritch and Séan Stewart, when he came on, all had great opportunities and maybe we had better chances than Derry.

"They had a Northern Ireland international in Rory Patterson up front, one of the best strikers in the league, but they were generally restricted to long-range shots and free kicks. I had a fairly quiet night in goal.

"That's credit to the lads in front of me. Andrew Cleary, Tony Keeler and Mark Rooney were all excellent, they made sure we were solid at the back and I had little to do, and Peter Sherlock was excellent for us," added the 'keeper.

The fear for Bluebell is that Derry are unlikely to slip up again as they did on Friday. "They know more about us now," says McNulty. "Whatever about their players, I think the Derry fans thought they just had to turn up on Friday, score an early goal and then score a few more to finish us off but it didn't happen that way. We'll need to be very good to get past them, but we have the ability to do it."

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