Maher would trade penalty heroics for cup final win in normal time for Derry City

Derry City Brian Maher with goalkeeping coach Declan McIntyre at a training session ahead of this weekend's FAI Cup final Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus Crudden

GOALKEEPER Brian Maher admits his ideal FAI Cup final would be to keep a clean-sheet and Derry City to defeat Shelbourne in the 90 minutes.

The Republic of Ireland U21 international suffered in September in the Uefa European U21 Championship play-off penalty shoot-out heartache in Israel and he doesn't want that to happen again on Sunday, at the Aviva Stadium.

Maher concedes he really doesn't want to be the hero and just wants Ruaidhrí Higgins's side to be travelling back up to the northwest with the trophy.

"I don't really care how we win, a clean-sheet and winning in 90 minutes would do me fine," he stated.

"I think we've got better and better as the season has gone on, obviously because of a new squad and then even more new players came during the summer, so it took time for the team to settle maybe, but I think as the season went on you could see us steadily improving."

In their previous four games against Damien Duff's side, the Candystripes have found it tough against them and he's expecting another close encounter at the Aviva, in front of an expected 30,000 fans.

"All the games have been decided by either one goal between us or we've drawn," admitted Maher.

"We know how they're going to play, they're a difficult team to play against and we know it's not going to be an easy game for us, but it's one that we're definitely looking forward to and probably we'll want to put right a of the few results that we've had against them this year."

Just over two years ago, the Dubliner decided to leave St Patrick's Athletic and take a step down to First Division side Bray Wanderers, a decision which he feels has well and truly paid off.

"Coming to Derry was something I was really looking forward to and I wanted to play in, so be standing here now looking forward to the cup final, is probably a reward for taking the risk dropping down the league from St Pat's to play for Bray and going and searching for games, because I thought I would be waiting to long at St Pats," he said.

"I knew that I needed to be playing games to get international call-ups so that was one of the things that was on my mind.

"Also getting the chance to be working with really good staff in Gary Cronin and Ian Fowler at Bray was something I couldn't really say no to and I got some of the best coaching in Ireland there, despite dropping down the league, but it seems to have paid off."