Derry City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins aiming for FAI Cup glory

Manager Ruaidhrí Higgins is fully aware just how much the FAI Cup means to Derry City and admits he’d love to win it for a third time with the Brandywell club.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Friday, 29th July 2022, 5:49 pm
The late great Mark Farren, left, Gary Beckett, centre, and Ruaidhri Higgins celebrate after Derry City’s memorable 2006 FAI Carlsberg Cup win over St Patrick’s Athletic, at Lansdowne Road. Picture by Brian Lawless/Sportsfile
The late great Mark Farren, left, Gary Beckett, centre, and Ruaidhri Higgins celebrate after Derry City’s memorable 2006 FAI Carlsberg Cup win over St Patrick’s Athletic, at Lansdowne Road. Picture by Brian Lawless/Sportsfile

The Candy Stripes begin their Extra.ie FAI Cup campaign tomorrow against Leinster Senior League side, Oliver Bond Celtic (KO 5pm), and for Higgins, he still has one FAI Cup regret.

The 37-year-old was part of the 2008 side which lost to Pat Fenlon’s Bohemians on penalties at the RDS, a defeat that still annoys him over a decade later.

“I was part of the ‘06 and 2012 teams that won the cup but we lost on penalties in 2008 and I’ll not forget that in a hurry because I was one of the players that missed a penalty in the shoot-out. We were excellent that day but still, to this day, that final breaks my heart. I should have three cup winners’ medals rather than two,” he insisted.

“But, look, the competition is something really important to this club so we have to be ambitious and we have to aim to go and try to win it, I know talk is cheap but on our day we can beat anyone and that’s the aim because, as I said, you have to be ambitious.

“We have a good group of players but we have to beat whoever is in front of us. Oliver Bond Celtic is an up and coming club who aren’t that old at all but they are growing fast and they have some good players. However, we know if we play to our capabilities then we should go through the round.”

Higgins certainly isn’t taking anything for granted and has had the Dubliners watched but conceded he would have liked to watched them himself last weekend before things started to heat up on the transfer front with centre-back Mark Connolly.

“Conor (Loughrey - Opposition Analysts Coach) and Seamus (McCallion - Performance Analysis coach) went down last Sunday to watch their game and we have got a video from that match,” he explained. “They have seen them at first hand. Obviously last weekend we had a lot of stuff going on, like identifying targets and going after them or I would have been in Dublin myself as well.

“But we have got footage and we have got the game recorded and we’re working off that. Look, I’m sure it’s going to be a good game and it’s a big game for them. It’s also obviously a big game for us as we want to go deep in the competition.”

The Derry boss knows how cup glory could be a springboard for the Brandywell men in the years ahead, using both the Dundalk team he played in and, most recently, Shamrock Rovers’ glory 2019 as examples.

“You look at (Shamrock) Rovers in 2019, that was their first trophy and it was a springboard for them to kick-on,” he added.

“I remember when I was a player at Dundalk in 2014, we won the League Cup and that was the catalyst for us to go on and dominate really for a number of years. So, yeah, winning a cup can give you that hunger and belief that you can do it.

“Look, we’re not going to lie, we would love to be at the Aviva in November and that has to be the ambition.”

Higgins said he hopes to have new signing Connolly available for tomorrow’s tie as they wait on the paperwork being completed. He also confirmed that a number of his squad have “a few bumps and bruises” so team selection won’t happen until after today’s training session.

“We’re pushing for Mark to be available but we’ll see what happens on Friday. If he’s available then he’ll play,” insisted the City boss, “We have a couple of wee niggles that we have to keep an eye on and manage, so we’ll wait closer to kick-off time before making a call.”

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