The 5-3 victory on penalties secured promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1 for the Eagles, meaning they would be competing at the highest level of development football next season and Derry is proud of his team.
“How do you put that into words? Just [a feeling] of immense proudness, from my perspective on behalf of all the staff. Such a proud moment to see the players enjoy a night like that, and the recognition that comes with a game of this magnitude.
“We don’t make anything easy here, do we?! Everything’s really hard, but they’re the best feelings - there are moments of the night where it really hurts, but you get your rewards for it in a penalty shoot-out. As soon as it went to a penalty shoot-out, I had a little feeling: I fancied us. We’ve been practising that scenario for a couple of weeks now and it’s not over until it’s over, is it?”
This victory will live long in the memory of both the huge crowd at Selhurst Park and the players, as Derry explains: “Playing here in front of the fans, not just on some occasions, is showing the players what a career looks like.
“I’m so pleased with how our players have experienced that, because as we know in Academy football, that particular moment tonight will be a lasting memory for the rest of their lives.
“The fans have seen the next breed of players coming through the Academy, not just tonight but last week as well. I think they could tell, it looked like a Crystal Palace team. You know the heart and the desire that we’ve spoken about for so many years. Back before I even put on a shirt I knew exactly what it was like to play for this club, and more importantly so do those players.”
Finally, the victory on penalties signifies something bright for Derry, the coaching staff and the Academy as a whole, as he elaborates: “The good thing about the penalty shoot-out is that we spoke about it and how to approach it and everybody followed the orders. I think from a coaching and management perspective that’s great for us.
“Just mentioning the coaches and all the staff, I’d like to give a special mention to the whole Academy. This is not just about the Under-23s tonight, this is about everybody connected to the Crystal Palace Academy and the direction that we’d like to go in.
“What a great platform next year: to be playing against the top teams at our level. That’s where we want to be, we spoke about that and it’s a reward for everybody connected to the club.”