“The character the players showed was incredible,” said Devine.
“We played five under-21s today against a top, top side. The young players were outstanding. And then at the heart of the team, Ger Doherty, a man who buried his grandfather this morning. No one in the press knew anything about it. Came down, got his head down, hasn’t slept in two days and wins a cup medal for his grandfather. I’m delighted.”
An emotional Doherty admitted: “I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it down the road. I had to leave things a little bit earlier today. I wasn’t too happy about it but, to be honest, if there’s one person going to understand, it would be my grandfather. He wouldn’t have me missing this match.
“He followed my career. He had the final set to record and watch the match and he was really looking forward to it and all. But I suppose he probably had the best seat in the house watching it today.He’ll be sadly missed. He was from the city, a footballer himself back in the day, a great left peg on him. He played for a team called Foyle Harps, he was very proud of that. He had a green and white jersey on his coffin this morning and he would have been very proud to see that today.”
Manager Devine also saluted the local football people who had saved the club from extinction.
“I’m lost for words and for me to be lost for words says a lot,” he said. “It means everything. Our club was on its knees three years ago, we were thrown out of the league. A group of local men regrouped and we’re back winning major honours today, we’re back in Europe. We have fantastic local staff and fantastic local players and if you were in that changing room you’d see what it means to everyone. This club’s back where it belongs.”
By contrast, Pats manager Liam Buckley described a devastated losing dressing room.
“We are gutted in there and I’m sick for the lads as we have worked extremely hard all season and this would have been nice reward,” he said.
His assistant Trevor Croly added: “They are all devastated. We worked hard all season and we’ve lost the cup final and come third in the league. It’s disappointing.”
But Croly, expected to be named the new Shamrock Rovers manager later this week, declined to comment on his immediate future. “I’m trying to deal with just losing a cup final and I think that’s fair enough.”