Clinical Derry stroll to victory in Celtic battle

In what must be regarded as one of the most spectacular results by an Irish football club in recent decades, Derry City annihilated their Scottish opposition, Gretna, 5-1 in Scotland tonight. The result all but assures the Derry side a place in the first round proper of the UEFA cup. With Drogheda still in contention for a place alongside the Derry men (after losing 1-0 away in the first leg tonight) the results confirm the growing stature of the Eircom League. All three league sides proved victorious in their respective first round outings in Europe this year, and with Derry almost certain to progress to their third contest (the 1st Round proper) this will be the most successful European performance by either of the two Leagues in Ireland for many years.

The growing professionalism of the Eircom league, coupled with Summer football, have undoubtedly benefitted the collective performances of its teams- both at home and abroad. In this season’s Setanta Cup, Linfield alone amongst the Irish League representative clubs proved able to compete on a par with the Eircom league sides. So are there lessons in here for the northern league?

Update: Presuming Derry don’t concede 5 goals at home against Gretna in the return fixture, they will proceed to the 1st round proper of the tournament. If they should come through that stage of the competition, then they will secure at least four more European nights this season as they will have gained a place in the League stage of the competition. More on the complicated format of this competition here. The First Round, however, is where the ‘big boys’ enter the tournament, with West Ham, Tottenham, Rangers and Blackburn all potential prize draws for the Derry men.

  • Garibaldy

    Just to complicate matters I’ll post here. I remember Cork City scoring against Bayern Munich, and people going made. I think they were hammered 5-1 but possibly still more impressive.

  • Chris Donnelly

    In terms of reputation- if not quality- of opposition, Derry’s first quaifying round victories against IFK Gothenburg were probably as impressive. However, it’s the fact that Derry secured such a convincing victory away from home and in the 2nd round of the tournament that’s so impressive.

  • Garibaldy

    Forgot about the Gothenberg. Agree that was a great achievment, probably the best. Much more impressive than the Gretna result I’d say, who aren’t that good a team.

  • dantheman

    Great night for Derry. I think they have captured the support from people of all persuasions in all parts of Ireland. Well done!!

  • clifton red

    well done to Derry on their dismantling of the scottish cup finalists. This win coupled with their success against Gothenburg highlight what a good team they are. All of Ireland should take pride in their fine achievements

  • Keith M

    Derry City vs Rangers eh? Now that’s what I call mouth-watering!

    Other potential opponents are Hearts and Liverpool after last night’s bad results.

    Drogheda still have a very good chance to join Derry in the first round.

    “So are there lessons in here for the northern league?”

    BTW the “northern league” is called the Irish League. It’s also woth pointing out that Linfield (the most successful Irish club in Europe) also won the Setanta Cup 18 months ago.

  • Well done to Derry City. Fantastic result. Heres hoping they get past the next round and into the group stages of the competition.

  • tra g

    Brilliant result for Derry and two crackers from Kevin Deery

    A good week for young Deery all round after being named in the Ireland u21 squad for the UEFA Championship qualifier away to Greece on August 16th.

  • skinbop

    what were the odds on dc winning? fantastic result!
    btw – dc are one of the most northerly teams on the island which makes the “northern league” a redundant phrase.

  • Fraggle

    Great win for Derry.

    skinbop, as Keith pointed out above, it’s called the Irish League. The Northern League is a northern Italian separatist organization that advocated an independent Padania.

  • Patrique

    Shows you how bad Celtic and Rangers really are, and that’s what most people in Ireland watch. Sad isn’t it?

  • dantheman

    Peoplpe who follow the northern league have links with fascism and have an irrational people from the south of their country whereas people who follow the Irish league have………..

  • TC

    “what were the odds on dc winning? fantastic result!”

    Gretna were 2/1 on earlier this evening. Fantastic results for DC, and hopefully they’ll get a big name tie in the 1st round proper.

  • Keith M

    Patrique “Shows you how bad Celtic and Rangers really are, and that’s what most people in Ireland watch. Sad isn’t it?”

    It does no such thing. Gretna arern’t even in the same league (literally) as Rangers and Celtic and only made it to the the UEFA Cup because Hearts (the team that beat them in the Scottish Cup Final) had already qualified for the Champions League.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Keith and Fraggle
    I was writing informally. Address the point: Do you think the Irish League teams can learn anything from the Eircom League successes of recent times?

    Personally, I believe the summer soccer idea has proved a tremendous success, and there are lessons in there for the Irish League. The Eircom league sides have shown themselves willing to take risks to bring continued success through seeking to increase the number of professional players in the League. The Eircom League has also secured Live and Highlight programmes on Television that remains beyond the Irish League.

    And, whilst Keith may be correct to point to Linfield’s unparalleled successes at club level in Ireland, the fact remains that, apart from Linfield, the rest of the northern based sides do not seem capable of matching the ambition nor potential of the Eircom League teams- as this year’s Setanta Cup results and performances demonstrated.

  • Chris, one of the problems with live coverage is that it could reduce the already poor attendance at Irish League games or at least have an impact on what teams can charge for tickets.

    I’m also not sure that summer football is either desirable or practical in NI given the other ‘highlights’ of the calendar.

  • Keith M

    Chris “Address the point: Do you think the Irish League teams can learn anything from the Eircom League successes of recent times? ”

    First of all let’s not get carried away by the “successes” for the Eircom League teams. Over the past couple of years they have done slightly better than before, but as I’ve pointed out being the 37th ranked league in Europe is nothing to write home about, especially when we trail such “powerhouses” as Moldova, Lithuania, Georgia and Macedonia.

    The Eircom league still attracts small crowds and any half decent players are immediatly snapped up by clubs in England.

    The Irish League is in trouble, both in internal terms and comparitivly (the league ir rated as 46th in Europe).

    The problem is too few players being spread too thinly among too many teams. There should only be 10 to 12 clubs, and one division.

    I’m still sceptical of summer football given the competition of the World and European Cups every second year.

    One thing I will say is that an effort should be made bring Derry City back into the Irish League where they rightfully belong.

  • stan

    So no summer football in the North because the supporters would rather march in orange parades and no sunday football because of the religious fundamentalists who administer the game.

    The futures bright !!!

  • Keith M

    stan “and no sunday football because of the religious fundamentalists who administer the game.”

    As it happens very very few football games in this country are played on Sunday. Competing with the GAA is something the FAI would want to avoid, as I suggest, would the IFA.

  • TC

    Interesting article in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago about Irish football. I don’t know much about it so I can’t really comment (although I don’t particularly rate the ability of football fans to provide unbiased views about any aspect of the sport!).,,2093-2281571.html

  • TC

    “As it happens very very few football games in this country are played on Sunday. Competing with the GAA is something the FAI would want to avoid, as I suggest, would the IFA. ”

    I understood that one of the many explanations for poor attendances at Irish League games is that the inability to play Amateur League games on a Sunday means that many potential fans are actually playing football on a Saturday rather than heading out to watch the match (with their sons/daughters etc). Is there any truth in this?

  • Fraggle

    “an effort should be made bring Derry City back into the Irish League where they rightfully belong.”

    along with Shelborne etc. maybe.

    Derry City doesn’t need the hassle of travelling to Belfast every second weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a DC match but away matches in east Belfast or Windsor don’t appeal to me at all.

  • Fraggle

    No sunday football up here. At least we have contraception eh Keith!

  • Doctor Who

    Sunday football should be a rality in the Irish League as the ovwewhelming majority of delegates voted for it but not the 75% needed for change.

    It is a fact that the League of Ireland has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and perhaps someone from the Irish League would like to find out why. Domestic League football in Northern Ireland is going backwards and it does require a giant kick up the arsenal if it´s going to survive.

    A Premier Division of a maximum of 12 teams would be a start, the football season from March to December, with a two week break in July would appeal to folks (attendances couldn´t get any lower).

    One of the reasons for the improvement in the South in European competitions is that they are in mid season and at the height of fitness, their Northern counterparts have just reported back for preseason and hence these games have become an inconvenience and not the money earners they once where.

    Oh and well done Derry City.

  • Keith M

    “No sunday football up here. At least we have contraception eh Keith!”

    Well you have to find something to fill a Sunday!

  • harpo

    ‘In what must be regarded as one of the most spectacular results by an Irish football club in recent decades’


    Spectacular? A top level Irish side beats a second level Scottish side handily. That’s spectacular?

    Get back to me when they take down a Milan or Barcelona. Now that would be spectacular. Or even if they did it to a top division side from a big country – a Newcastle, a Hertha Berlin or a Marseille. Now that would be spectacular.

    What word would you use to describe it if they did such a thing in the next round?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    There’s more than church?

  • Rory

    No sunday football up here. At least we have contraception.

    How nice for you. Do keep practising.

  • spice girl

    ah what a bunch of bigots you all are – any excuse to get one over!! From a Portadown Fan – well done Derry – incredible result!! If AC Milan had went to Gretna and won 5-1 I would have been impressed but for a club from here!! Outstanding. Summer football appears the way froward for our wee country – not only do we not only have to stand out in the wind and rain, but out players will in peak shape when it comes to the european competitions!
    Well done derry and I hope the plaudits come in from across the politicaly divide, not that politics should have any role in sport!
    Super Derry!

  • ben

    Second-tier Scottish team plays against top-tier Irish team in qualifying round for second-tier European competition.

    Wake me up when something interesting happens.

  • Mick Fealty

    Does anyone know what the financial benefits to Derry will be now they’ve made the competition proper?

    As for lessons to be drawn, what have they done differently other than have summer matches?

  • DerryTerry

    Instead of nonsense about Derry rejoining the Irish League would the best thing not be an All Ireland league? The Setanta Cup shows the potential is there and it would raise standards right across the island. The best clubs in the country playing each other week in and week out throughout the summer and even on a Sunday, has to be better than Linfield stuffing 8 out of 10 teams every week.

  • Jo

    An excellent result. Derry were 7-2 against and I thought Gretna would win but slapped a tenner on the Derry wans. Thanks boys, brilliant stuff!

  • Realist

    Derry City were available yesterday at odds of 9/2 generally.

    A pal in Dublin texted me to say that fortunes were being waged there on Derry City

    Last nights result proves two things:

    1/ Irish football is better than many give it credit for.

    2/ Scottish football, outside of two clubs, is crap.

    If Derry’s performances in Europe bring more fans through the gates at Irish grounds, that will be magnificant.

    Some top quality goals last night – a joy to watch.

    Well done and good luck to Derry City and their fantastic supporters.

    Looking forward to the Setanta Cup this season already.

    More mediocre fayre for me first tho – Coleraine v Dungannon Swifts tonight, and the Blues at Larne tomorrow.

  • Patrique

    For Keith M’s information, hearts beat Gretna on penalties in the Scottish Cup Final, Hearts are top of the Scots premier, where does that leave celtic and rangers? Maybe Derry could move to the Scots Premier, to improve their record in Europe.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Well done Derry, a great victory I hope you continue to do well.

  • AudacesFortunaJuvat

    Well done to Derry City, from a Linfield fan and Rangers season ticket holder. It just shows how important it is that teams in the Irish League start to take more players on profesional contracts.

    I honestly find it quite depressing that DC don’t play in the Irish league, its a bad troubles hangover and I’m sure that most fans of IL clubs would welcome them back nowadays. I know most Linfield fans really enjoyed our recent matches against them, they play good football and their fans are a credit to the club.

  • na

    On an unrelated but sporting matter. Congratulations to Derval O’Rourke, we don’t get many athletics medals and that was an unexpected but pleasant surprise.

  • jim

    “and their fans are a credit to the club.”

    Unlike Linfield fans who welcomed Derry City to Windsor park last season by singing songs about the victims of bloody Sunday.

  • The Annadale Sink

    Please go and pollute somwhere else, there’s a decent bit of craic going on here.

  • AudacesFortunaJuvat

    Jim- I sat in the Kop stand at Windsor that evening and I honestly dont remember any songs about the victims of Bloody Sunday. Nor do I believe any songs being sung by us would have been heard by the DC fans as the noise they made was unbelievable.

    Yes there were some unsavoury songs coming from sections of the crowd, the type of songs sung by the one-match-a-season crowd who come along for a “sash bash” when there is a big match on.

    Linfield are actively trying to remove this type of “fan” from Windsor, and I wish them every success in doing so.

    If you are a DC fan, and not some guy going out of his way to be offended, then I hope you enjoy the rest of the European campaign.

    Who knows, maybe we will get the chance to give you a warmer welcome at Ibrox.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I’ve been looking at the excellent UEFA website. Apparently the Eircom League standing in terms of European Leagues is up to 37th now, with the Irish League back at 46th, both out of 52 Leagues in Europe.

    The site also provides a record of all European games back to the late 1990s.

    But I found the results of the last few years particularly interesting, and proof of the marked progress being made by the Eircom teams.

    Since the 2004/05 season (in other words, the last three years of Euro matches) Eircom League sides have won 8 round ties, stacking up 10 game wins, 10 draws and 14 losses.

    In the same period, Irish League teams have won 2 round ties, with 2 game wins, 4 draws and 16 losses in that time.

    These obviously don’t include the return games in this year’s UEFA Cup 2nd round, which could see both Derry and Drogheda progress and secure another two round victories.

    Whilst Summer football has undoubtedly helped in this regard, the growing professional status of many teams in the Eircom league has also brought success with it.

  • Seán

    Performances in europe up.
    Attendances down leading to the demise of Dublin City. Is summer football worth it?

  • pid

    To concur with CD, I suspect the progress of DC and eircom league sides generally, is a spin-off from the upskilling of irish society generally. Much of manufacturing industry, and services are genuinely world-class. There is a serious cadre of driven, achieving professionals down here and in their spare time (not that there is much of it) they apply their skills to sport. So eircom league clubs have committees packed with achievers who want top-class facilities, preparation, plans etc.

    Due to the migration of the best Irish players to England though, there is a limit to how far they can go.
    For the moment, the Nordic countries are starting to appear catchable.

  • willowfield


    You refer to “Irish society generally”, but talk about “down here”. Presumably, then, you’re not actually talking about “Irish society generally”!


    Are attendances really down?

  • john

    A bit off topic but

    “Ireland manager Steve Staunton has tonight been involved in a serious incident outside the team hotel in Portmarnock.
    It is understood a man in his 30s approached Staunton holding a gun, at which point Staunton, 37, promptly turned and fled.
    Staunton informed hotel staff of the situation, who in turn contacted local gardai. The assailant was eventually caught on a nearby beach.
    Although no weapon has yet been found, the man, who is believed to have a history of psychiatric problems, was arrested and taken to a nearby station in Malahide.
    A statement from the Football Association of Ireland read: “The FAI can confirm an incident took place outside the Republic of Ireland team hotel in Portmarnock earlier this evening.
    “The matter is now being dealt with by the gardai.
    “The Ireland manager Stephen Staunton is absolutely fine and looking forward to training tomorrow.”

  • Realist


    “Who knows, maybe we will get the chance to give you a warmer welcome at Ibrox.”
    might get the chance to welcome our Derry friends back to “The Shrine” sooner than expected.

    Derry can play big clash at Windsor

    By Robert Fenton

    12 August 2006

    Derry City’s magnificent win over Gretna in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup has caught the imagination of all football parties in the province.

    And none more so than at Windsor Park where Linfield were among those shelling out the praise to Stephen Kenny and his boys.

    The message from Windsor is that if Derry City need a bigger ground for a clash in the next round against the likes of Rangers, Spurs, Newcastle or whoever, Linfield are more than willing to accommodate the Candystripes.

    “We have a seating capacity of 14,000 and we were surprised Derry didn’t consider the switch for the Gothenburg game when they only had capacity for 2,500 at the Brandywell,” said Linfield treasurer Richard Johnson.

    “Obviously, the request would have to come from Derry but I can assure them that it would be looked upon most favourably.

    “We were approached already this season to stage Dungannon Swifts’ Intertoto match and had no hesitation in agreeing to the use of Windsor Park.”

    UEFA, of course, insist in all-seater stadiums for Champions League and UEFA Cup ties and for the Gretna return leg, Derry are installing an extra 400 seats.

    The Candystripes, with a 5-1 away win, are to all intents and purposes in the first round proper and that will mean a major windfall for the eircom League side. Naturally, Derry will be reluctant to move away from their home base in the interest of their supporters. But the temptation of filling a ground with 14,000 fans for what could be the biggest club game in the province for many a long time may sway matters in going to a ground that is only 80 miles away. Derry visited Windsor last season in the Setanta Cup when they impressed in a 1-1 draw.

  • derek

    They would have to call themselves londonderry city and put a wee blue stripe on their jersey to be welcomed by the loyalist faithful at windsor.

    But seriously, i’ll give you odds of 100/1 that Derry will not entertain going anywhere near windsor park.

    I’m sure the people of Derry have not forgotten the terrible way they were treated by the ifa.

  • Proud fascist/loyalist

    What the fok.

    The only reason that Londonderry City won against the galant Gretna was because they are supported by the IRA – financially.

    I can’t prove this but it explains everything.
    And the reason that the hardly League of Ireland is not as successful is because of the Papist plot to starve the IFA of funds and to lower the good Ulster working class Protestants’ morale.
    This plot is organised by the EU, Ireland the radical left-wing/sepatatist labour Party and the Roman Catholic Church.
    The new German pope is a catholic – need I saw more?
    The amount of money that is given to the Eircom league is disgusting.

    But the proud Ulster Portestant will never give in to this – we shell overcome – and ours is the future.

  • audley

    Why is Londonderry City playing in the Republic of Ireland league. They should be forced to play here in the UK in the Ulster league or else they should be banned by UEFA, for crimes against geography!!!

  • tim

    And people wonder why the the Irish League attracts so few supporters and so little investment !!!

    Religious fundamentalists making decisions, sectarianism, crumbling grounds, no sponsorship etc….

    blame the likes of proud fascist loyalist.

  • audley

    “The new German pope is a catholic – need I saw more?”

    Even the pope is Catholic these days. Are there no depths the vatican won’t stoop to???