End of season affairs oftens fade into the annals with little cause to recall. Tonight’s tetchy affair at the Brandywell however, may be the catalyst for a resurgent Derry Ladies under the stewardship of Kevin McLaughlin. Ultimately running out 4-1 victors, Derry played with purpose, confidence and a self-belief not often seen this season. That in itself, is almost as unusual as the Candystripes wearing their now infamous away kit at the Brandywell.
The opening ten minutes didn’t give much away in terms of who would prevail but as Derry settled, they gained more of the possession. Rosie Cunningham on the left has been showing great form of late and she was a threat on the left. It was through the centre however that Derry took the lead on 18 Minutes. Shannon Dunne found herself alone at the edge of the box. Controlling the ball with intent, she slotted the ball calmly into the Portadown goal.
Three minutes later Laura Cregan made it two. Claims for a free kick on the half way line were dismissed and in the confusion, Cregan found herself free on goal and didn’t disappoint. Better still was to follow for the home side, as a smart turn and finish from the Derry forward made it three nil on 27 minutes. Derry were in control and Portadown’s relegation was becoming all too real.
As the half ended, McBride in the Derry goal had to be alert on the edge of her box before Gemma McGuiness scored the goal of the night. Great work down the Derry right, produced a pin point cross, that McGuiness skilfully nodded into the roof of the net.
The second half was a more even affair, with Portadown wasting free space in the middle third. Derry continued to threaten down both flanks, with Cunningham and McGuiness acting as potent outlets. On 75 minutes, tensions boiled over. A well timed, last ditch tackle by Shannon Dunne was met with thunderous disapproval by the Portadown team. In the ensuing aftermath, thankfully calmness prevailed. Portadown would score their final goal in the Premier League three minutes later and the curtain was drawn on the season for both sides. For Derry Ladies at least, the report card must read, could have done better.