Derry City birthday boy Jamie McGonigle celebrates in style with Tallaght Stadium winner
JAMIE McGonigle couldn't have planned a better way to mark the start of his birthday celebrations than to score a sublime winning goal against Derry City's title rivals Shamrock Rovers in their own backyard.
In front of a bumper 7,616 attendance at Tallaght Stadium the Dungiven man swept home Ryan Graydon's cross on 54 minutes in an almost replica of his FAI Cup Final goal at the Aviva last November.
It wasn't as dramatic as his injury time winner against Rovers at Brandywell last February where he dispossessed Roberto Lopes and ran from the halfway line before finding the net. However, it was a lovely finish to complete what was a beautifully worked move involving Will Patching and Graydon on the right flank.
The City hotshot turns 27 years-old on Sunday but those birthday celebrations will be much more muted than his celebrations on the pitch at Tallaght as he gets himself game-ready for the trip to UCD on Monday night.
"It's a habit I'll not complain about," he said when it was pointed out he's developed a knack of scoring winning goals against Rovers. "It's my birthday weekend and I always seem to score on my birthday weekend too so maybe that's a good luck thing as well," he smiled.
"Patching's reverse pass was brilliant and then 'Graydo' looked up and I made eye contact with him. And probably because we've done it before in the cup final so once it came to me it was just a matter of sweeping it home. There was still a long way to go after that but thankfully we ground it out."
It opened McGonigle's account for the season and he was delighted to finally get off the mark at Tallaght.
"It's one of the things I was actually talking to a couple of the players about, I hadn't scored here last season and it was one of the only places I haven't scored. I wanted to make sure I got off the mark and that was probably my first real chance of scoring so thankfully I took it.
"It's a massive win for us, especially coming down here. Rovers, even though they have people suspended, they arguably have the best squad in the country. We probably weren't at our best tonight either. We had to dig it out towards the end but thankfully we did this time."
The win extended Derry's eye-catching start to the season which has garnered seven points from nine and a President's Cup win over Rovers. However, it's simply another three points and McGonigle is careful not to get too carried away.
"Last year was the same result early on in the season, 2-1 and it never really came to anything at the end of the season. So we won't get carried away and we'll concentrate on Monday now."
And Derry players must dust themselves down after playing in front of a record attendance at Tallaght and prepare themselves for a trip to the Belfield Bowl where UCD await .It's a different challenge but one McGonigle insists they will be well prepped for.
"You can't take anything for granted, every team poses their own threats. We just have to make sure we're set up right and do a professional job."