The first captain to lift the fabled trophy at the newly opened Aviva Stadium in 2010, Danny Ventre knows there is nothing better than that winning feeling.
The despair of losing his first FAI Cup final, Sligo Rovers’ defeat to Sporting Final at Tallaght Stadium the year before, merely emphasised that.
Ventre now brings the experience of subsequently winning the cup three times to his Derry team-mates as he hopes to get the nod to start, possibly at right-back, on Sunday having battled back to fitness following a mid-season knee operation.
“I’ve been there a few times, different club, different year, but it’s the same feeling,” said the Liverpudlian.
“We’re going there to win, it doesn’t matter if you’re underdogs or favourites. I think we are underdogs, which I kinda like, as do the lads.
“The end of the season was not what we wanted but the cup final is anyone’s on the day, isn’t it?”
Ventre’s season somewhat mirrors that of the Derry’s roller-coaster campaign.
“I enjoyed it at the start, then we had a little patch in the middle when we had a good few results before I got injured just after the European game,” said the 28-year-old.
“I had an operation on my knee and I’ve only been involved the last four weeks. Fitness wise, I’m not where I need to be with the lads but I’ve got to get on with it, haven’t I?”
Having enjoyed some of the marquee moments of his career on the pitch in Dublin 4, Ventre desperately wants to be involved and to add to that fond memory bank.
“Yes, I haven’t lost there and was the first person to lift a trophy there. They are good memories. I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to be losing there now.”
And Ventre now wants his big match experience to swaymanager Peter Hutton’s selection thinking.
“I hope so. But young kids have no fear and they can go out and play naturally, winning the final just on their own. We have Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney who can win games on their own.
“I would like to think that I can help them on the pitch and I hope Pizza (Hutton) sees that from my point of view as St Pat’s have more experience.”
Liam Buckley’s Inchicore side may be warm favourites, but having beaten them in the final just two years ago, there are matchwinners in the Derry dressing-room.
“Sligo finished third in the league last season and won the cup and Pats are now third and I would like to say that they won’t win the cup!” quipped Ventre.
“They’ve some good players: Fahey, Brennan, Bolger, Clarkie, and they’re all older and more experienced.
“There are a lot of young lads in our team. Ger Doherty and Barry Molloy are the experience, along with Rory Patterson and myself.
“We don’t have many fellows who have won a lot and I think that may be the deciding factor,” Ventre added of Derry’s hunger for victory come Sunday.
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