Brian Maher goalkeeping masterclass perfected on the Derry City training ground

​BRIAN Maher's stunning match-winning save against Drogheda was no fluke but rather a reaction mastered during his midweek training ground drills at Brandywell.

Ruaidhri Higgins has repeatedly labelled Derry City's No.1 as the best goalkeeper in the country and it was difficult to argue with that assessment after watching his heroics in the final stages of the 1-0 win at Weavers Park.

A short clip of Maher's 77th minute save to deny Freddy Draper from point blank range generated plenty of traction online and it was a moment of brilliance perfected on the training pitch, explained the Dubliner afterwards.

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"I was walking off the pitch with Doc (Michael Dougherty), our goalkeeping coach, and we were just saying we do that during the week probably 25 times a week.

"It's something that we do - turning off your post and getting across the goal as fast as you can. I tried to make myself big and hope it hit me and it did thank God because obviously it's a huge chance for them."

Higgins described it as 'Schmeichel-esque' and his stoppage time save to deny Draper once more at the near post wasn't too shabby either.

The 22 year-old Raheny man was heavily scrutinised after his error which led to Jack Byrne's goal on Monday night in the 2-0 loss to Shamrock Rovers but he wasn't fazed by the criticism and insists there's no danger of him changing his high risk sweeper-keeper role.

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It says a lot about his maturity and temperament that he channelled that adversity in a positive manner.

Derry keeper Brian Maher celebrates the win in Drogheda. Photo by Kevin Moore.Derry keeper Brian Maher celebrates the win in Drogheda. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Derry keeper Brian Maher celebrates the win in Drogheda. Photo by Kevin Moore.

"Obviously Monday was tough but it doesn't affect me that much. It's one mistake, one action and it's something I'm quite good at and it's a part of my game that I really value.

"It's one mistake, everyone makes them. It's about how you come back from it. I wanted to put it right tonight for the team and help get us three points.

"I'm only 22," he continued. "I'm going to make mistakes, everybody does. It's about how you come back from them. I've got good support around me. the boys have my back. It was a tough one to take on Monday.

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"Obviously with it being on TV there's a lot of opinions about it but it's a part of my game that I really value so it doesn't affect me."

It's water off a duck's back you just have to bounce back and learn from it.”

"We went through the video on Wednesday and learned from it. It's only going to make me better so you've got to use it as a positive."

Maher has been long lauded for his outstanding distribution and control but he showed in Drogheda how talented a shot-stopper he can be.

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"To be fair with the boys in front of me and the way the team plays, I don't think we give away a whole lot of chances so it's maybe a part of my game that gets talked about and fair enough.

"I just want to be there when needed and tonight I'm happy I was.”Shane McEleney and Cameron McJannet both shielded Maher’s goal heroically during the second half and the City keeper was quick to praise his teammates.

"They were outstanding and have been for most of the season. They don't get the credit they deserve.

"Draper is such a danger and they've gone and matched him with headers, tackles, there's a lot of blocks out there that maybe go unnoticed and then their quality on the ball shone through."They were braced for a difficult night and to come away with a win from the Co. Louth venue was a fantastic result.

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“Rovers drew here. Bohs won here but Drogheda had their chances. They really are a good side and are really well set up. Especially their attacking players are a very big threat. We've got to keep more clean sheets than we did last year and we’;ll give ourselves a chance.

"It's another big game next Friday and another win would relaly put us in a great position after Monday was like the end of the world for some.

“So there's going to be ups and downs all year and our dressing room is never not going to stick together.

"We need everyone pulling in the same direction. We know the quality in that dressing room. We know we haven’t quite hit the heights that maybe we could. We're working really hard and we’ll get there.”

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Three points separate Derry from leaders Bohs going into Friday’s clash at Dalymount and Maher expects lots more twists and turns in the title race to come in the coming weeks.

“Big games are going to come thick and fast. We're not anywhere near halfway yet. There's a lot of games to be played and you throw in Europe for teams, including us, and the cup and there's going to be a lot of twists and turns.

"We'll all stick together but we’ll work as hard as we can to finish as high as we can.”

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