Daire Doyle tips his ex Coventry City pal Ruaidhri Higgins for the top

RUAIDHRI HIGGINS' one-time Coventry City clubmate Daire Doyle believes the Derry City boss has 'immense quality' and has tipped him to bring success back to the Brandywell club.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:47 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:48 pm
Longford Town manager Daire Doyle and Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins pictured on the touchline during Friday's Premier Division clash at Brandywell. Picture by Kevin Moore.

The Longford Town manager took Higgins under his wing when he arrived at Highfield Road fresh out of school as a 14 year-old and they've remained close friends ever since.

The pair are currently completing their UEFA Pro Licence together in the FAI's class of 2020/22 and Doyle believes Higgins was a 'great appointment' for Derry City Football Club.

"I've so much time for Ruaidhri," said the 40 year-old Dubliner who represented the Sky Blues in the 1999 FA Youth Cup Final against West Ham.

"I've known him from when he was 14 when he came over. He was a little chubby 14 year-old but a very good footballer," he smiled. "I got on very well with Ruaidhri's family and dropped him at the airport and collected him. I had so much time for Ruaidhri since we've known each other.

"When I came back to play in the League of Ireland in 2007 obviously Ruaidhri was playing here at Brandywell and we had many battles against each other over the years when we were playing," added the former midfielder, who enjoyed spells with Bray, Drogheda, Shelbourne, Longford and Cabinteely following his time in England.

"He's a great character and a great appointment for the club here I feel. I think he can do some very good things here and I do wish him all the best because we go back a long way and I can't speak highly enough of him.

"I suppose the quality he has as a person and having been on some coaching badges with him, he has immense quality in that department too. So it's a great appointment for Derry and something I feel the Derry fans can take huge positives from going forward."

Higgins admitted he's 'forever grateful' to Doyle for his hospitality and guidance during his formative years at Coventry.

"He was brilliant to me," said the Derry boss. "I moved to England as a 14 year-old kid. I had just finished third year at school and I moved. It was a massive move for me. Daire was 17 or 18 and he was a full-time apprentice or pro at Coventry and really took me under his wing and looked after me. I'll be forever grateful for that but he's just an all round brilliant fella in fairness."

The pair's first head-to-head as managers ended in a 1-1 draw as Higgins' Derry City salvaged a point with a late, late James Akintunde equaliser at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday night.

Both managers were disappointed their respective teams failed to win the game but agreed a share of the spoils was probably a fair outcome.

"We're obviously gutted we didn't take the three points," said Doyle afterwards. "It was a late, late goal and we defended so well all game. We limited Derry to very few chances. They had two shots from distance and Mick (Kelly) saved them well but they didn't really get in behind us or create an awful lot of chances.

"We knew they've had a good bounce with Ruaidhri coming in where they've had two really big wins and then the disappointment of losing late to Finn Harps. So we knew they'd come with a really aggressive start and they played some really good stuff at times in the first half and made life difficult for us.

"They kept us working, we had to keep a good shape and work hard and limit space in central areas so they couldn't get in behind and down the sides of us. We did that very well. They're a very good side and there's good players there. We would've loved to get that win but it wasn't to be today.

"They played some very good stuff, Derry, at the same time without probably creating much. We went ahead with a really well worked goal, Dean Zambra with a lovely ball round the corner. Rob (Manley) rolled off the centre back and he finished it really well.

"Going into injury time in the game I thought we would defend well because Derry never looked like getting in behind us. Their goal was a long ball that's gone in and Shane Elworthy and Aaron O'Driscoll have a little coming together and the ball probably lands in the one place you don't want it to land, to Akintunde, and I think he probably mishits it into the ground a little bit and sends our keeper the wrong way.

"I suppose on the total balance of the game, you can't say that Derry probably weren't worth a point today but the way the game went, we are really disappointed that we don't have the three points. That's a couple of games we could've and probably should've taken more out of them but it's another point on the board at the same time and we go into another big game against Bohs at the weekend."

Longford remain just two points behind Derry in ninth spot after the opening 10 games and Doyle has been encouraged by his team's start to the season which has seen them win against Derry and draw against Bohemians and Dundalk.

"I'm really happy with how the lads are performing and with how disciplined and controlled the performances are and how competitive we've been in this league. I'm sure in the coming games we will continue to do that and we look to pick up points every week."