Derry City’s FAI Cup hero Mark Connolly has dedicated their success to those figures close to the squad who were not around to witness the end of their 10-year trophy famine.
And the former Dundee United man believes that City’s win will make the club a very attractive destination for players abroad as Derry aim to challenge Shamrock Rovers next term.
City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins had mentioned in the build-up the loss still felt in Derry by the tragic deaths of players Mark Farren (2016) and Ryan McBride (2017). Monaghan native Connolly had also said that the death last year of his father, Martin, was one of the reasons why he returned to Ireland after a long stint in Britain.
“The manager spoke on Saturday about people not here who would be cheering us on, and to make them proud,” says Connolly.
“Them moments, you keep them inside. It’s difficult because playing, it can be emotional, my father specifically was going through my head all the time and when the final whistle went, I knew how proud he would be.
“He would have been itching to come up on Thursday or Friday from Clones to be ready for the game to make sure he’s wasn’t late.
“It’s not just myself, other people in the team lost family members and friends. Sometimes you take a step back and think of the people who aren’t here.
“It can be tough but I’m sure we made them all proud. It’s difficult in Scotland with Celtic and Rangers, it’s hard to win stuff.
“So it’s something I’ll take great pride in. My father passed away last year and was a big reason in me coming home,” added Connolly, keen to see some quality now added to the squad.
“We want more players coming into the league, we need to go again, we need to recruit more players and we need to push on, we can’t sit still, we need to go forward,” he added.