DECLAN DEVINE admitted fatigue had set in against high flying Bohemians as the tough April fixture schedule finally took its toll on his players.
The 2-0 loss to third placed, Bohemians was Derry's eighth match during the month of April and a third in the space of seven days which ultimately proved 'a match too much', according to the City boss.
Bohemians have also had eight fixtures during a heavily congested month but Keith Long was able to freshen up his side, making EIGHT changes from the team which were held at home to Waterford last Friday night.
Devine made just the one enforced change with the suspended David Parkhouse replaced by Eoghan Stokes and as Bohs came out firing in the second half, it was clear that the Derry players were beginning to fatigue.
And while the City boss was disappointed with the result as Bohs moved six points clear of his side, he claimed he can't complain given the effort his players have given him over the past few weeks.
"It's disappointing," he said. "We're not in the business of losing games, especially not at home. At the same time the players have given everything, it's been a very busy month. Anybody that was here tonight would definitely have seen that all those players who have played all those minutes definitely looked tired.
"I can't complain because they have given us everything and put a lot of effort into a lot of games. But tonight was a game too much for us, there's no doubt about that. The quick turnaround from Friday to Monday, the same players going again.
"Ultimately they (Bohs) were able to rest eight on Friday night but they've taken four points from two difficult games. We've taken three against Cork. We will learn from that and move on."
Devine attempted to freshen up his team in the final 30 minutes when making a triple substitution but it failed to have the desired effect.
"Fatigue levels are high but it's the nature of this league," he added. "They've got a huge squad. They have 24 players and fair play to them they were able to rotate and come up here nice and fresh. The top sides are able to do that with their squads. That's something we have to strive towards. Making sure that not just our first 11 are extremely strong but also the people sitting in the sidelines."
Greg Sloggett had Derry's best chances in the match but was unable to get enough on his close range headers in either half to find a way past James Talbot. And the ex-UCD midfielder looked tired when his mis-placed back-pass was dispossessed by Dinny Corcoran who fired into the empty net for Bohs second goal.
However, Devine refused to lay any blame at the midfielder's door for his role in the second goal, claiming Sloggett has been as good as any player in his position this season.
"If you look back on the events of the game, we had a couple of chances to go 1-0 up and didn't take it," reflected Devine. "They've had two chances, albeit half chances. Their first goal was a super goal from their point of view and a poor goal from our point of view. The second goal was a mistake but there's going to be mistakes when you're tired.
"We had chances in the game. We missed a couple of headers from close in but Greg is sensational. He was barely able to walk in the changing room at half-time and he was still able to go out and give everything in the second half. He's an absolute dream so there's no fault at his doorstep. He's a player I love working with every day and his athleticism and quality on the ball is as good as anyone in this league. So absolutely there's no blaming any individuals.
"We just have to dust ourselves down now and thankfully there's an extra day's recovery to get us ready for Dundalk."