MATCH winner, Ryan Curran, has heaped praise on Peter Hutton for giving him the chance to prove his worth this season as the striker repaid the Derry City manager’s faith in him at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night.
The 21 year-old took full advantage of injuries to City’s new strike-force of Anthony Elding (calf) who failed a pre-match fitness test and Cillian Morrison (quad muscle) while Nathan Boyle also strained his quad muscle in training and missed out.
Leading the line, Curran netted the winning goal with nine minutes remaining on the clock, diverting the ball past Galway keeper, Gleeson as City came from behind to snatch full points.
Admittingly it wasn’t the cleanest of strikes from the Derry hhitman but he’s hoping it was enough to stake his claim for a starting berth against league champions, Dundalk at Brandywell this Friday night.
“I was delighted when it went in,” recalled Curran. “It was one of those matches. It was a funny sort of night with the weather and it was the first game of the season in front of a big crowd.
“First half we probably weren’t that good and then in the second half I felt we turned it around and to get that winning goal was just such a buzz.
I always believed in myself but with Peter (Hutton) giving me that backing I think I actually have a good chance this year. I think this is going to be a massive season for me.Ryan Curran
“We knew that because it was the first game of the season and not everyone would be in top form. It was going to be about working hard and trying to get the job done.
“Especially with Galway playing their first game back in the Premier Division we knew there would be a big crowd and we had to try and upset their game-plan first and then work on our own game after that.”
Was he surprised when given the nod to lead the Derry front line?
“I knew Cillian (Morrison) would miss out because he was struggling with injury but Anthony (Elding) was 50/50 to make it,” he said. “So I had an idea I was going to be playing. When I realised Anthony wasn’t going to make it I was more than happy to step up.”
Despite the fact that Derry have a limited squad in terms of numbers, there’s plenty of competition for places in attack and Curran is hoping to nail down his place and make scoring goals a regular occurence this season.
He failed to register a goal last season despite making quite a number of appearances predominantly from the bench while he scored just once the previous campaign against Blarney United in the FAI Cup second round.
“I think it’s more of a mental thing with me,” he added. “Peter’s told me I will have a good chance of playing this season.
“I always believed in myself but with Peter giving me that backing I think I actually have a good chance this year.
“I’m linking up with all the boys and because it’s such a young squad we all have a close bond.
“I think this is going to be a massive season for me,” he predicted. “With Anthony and Cillian coming in I think there’s going to be good competition for places and that’s what you want.
“I still want to play as many games as possible and I know the manager will give me my chance. Hopefully if I continue to score goals he will keep me in the team.
“Preferably I want to play up top but to be honest as long as I’m in the team I don’t mind if I’m playing through the middle or out wide - I don’t mind as long as I’m playing in the team.”
Curran was presented with the opportunity to sign for Coleraine last season but turned the move down in favour of challenging for a place in the Derry City starting XI and he believes it was the right decision.
“I had a few options to go elsewhere last year but I wanted to stay with Derry because I’m a local boy,” explained the Turasmore Park man. “I know all the players and I do feel like I have it in me to play for Derry City.
“I don’t think it’s beyond me and I think my decision to turn down a move to Coleraine was a blessing in disguise.”
Former Derry City striker, David McDaid took to his Twitter account after Friday’s game, singing the praises of his former teammate and made the bold claim that Curran could get 20 goals a season!
Seal of Approval
Curran claims there was a hint of sarcasm in that statement but he feels he can certainly contribute a lot more on the goalscoring stakes this year.
“Why is everyone so surprized [sic]. Do they not know your [sic] scoring 20 goals this season?” tweeted Cliftonville striker, McDaid.
“He’s just acting funny,” laughed Curran in response. “To be honest if I get anywhere near that I would be delighted.
“Obviously my main aim is to be on the pitch but once I’m playing I want to be scoring goals because as a striker that’s what you’re judged on. I want to be scoring goals for Derry City and helping the team out.
“I like being the underdog where nothing is really expected of me but when you’re playing games people start putting pressure on you and you have to score goals to repay the manager’s confidence in you.
“Hopefully, I did enough to start next Friday’s game against Dundalk. It will be a massive game, our first home game and we’re playing against the champions. Hopefully we can get some sort of result from it.
“We knew the Galway game was a massive game. It was a big three points because we have a tough run of fixtures after that.
“We have set our own targets within the group and we know what we’re capable of and know what we should be coming out of those games with.
“Nobody is thinking we’re going into those games to lose and if we can come out with good results everyone will be happy with that,” concluded Curran.
Meanwhile, Derry boss Hutton was delighted with Curran’s contribution last Friday night as he watched his team come from behind after a poor first half performance to claim an opening day victory.
“Ryan worked really hard and put in a great shift,” noted Hutton. “I don’t think it’s a goal that he will remember as he still doesn’t know which part of his body the ball came off before it hit the net. It wouldn’t be described as a goal of quality but we’ll take it and move on.”
Disappointed when entering the break 1-0 in arrears, Derry got it right for the second half of their performance and Galway can have no complaints. New Galway centre-back, Samuel Oji, gave the home side the perfect start as he got his head to Ryan Connolly’s 20th minute cross and powered the ball home from six yards. Following the change of ends, Derry silenced the large home support when Patrick McEleney’s cross wasn’t dealt with by a nervous Galway defence and as the ball made its way across the box, Sean Houston was left with the simple task of stabbing it home .
And with nine minutes remaining on the clock their second half supremacy was finally rewarded as Curran came to the fore to bundle McEleney’s pass past the Gawlay keeper and into the bottom corner.
GALWAY UNITED - C. Gleeson; A. O’Connell (J. Molloy 85), S. Walsh, S. Oji, C. Horgan; G. Shanahan, P. Sinnott, D. O’Leary, J. Keegan; E. Curran (P. Cunningham 78), R. Connolly. Subs not used - C. Raftery, C. Winn, A. McDonagh, C. Barry, A. O Laoi.
DERRY CITY - G. Doherty, D. Jarvis, S. McEleney, A.Barry, S. Kelly; J. Daniels, P Lowry, S. Houston, B. McNamee; P. McEleney, R. Curran. Subs not used: S. Patton, P. McClean, G. Kelly, R. Curtis, C. Flanagan, J. McIntyre, R. Doherty.
REFEREE - Mr. Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)