Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins' Capital Gains: "It's the nicest feeling!”

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RUAIDHRI Higgins thoroughly enjoys his trips to the capital and given his record with Derry City in Dublin it's easy to understand why.

Derry's form at Brandywell has been heavily scrutinised with their only three losses this season occurring on Foyleside where they’ve taken just eight points from a possible 21.

The Candy Stripes dropped a total of 25 points at home last term which ultimately cost them in the league title race but Higgins' troops continue to raid the capital with significant wins in Dublin already against Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne, UCD and now Bohemians.

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In fact from five trips to Dublin this season Derry have dropped just two points in a 1-1 draw in Inchicore against St Pat's - a game they should've won - and since Higgins took charge in April 2021 he's won an incredible 14 of 21 games against the Dubs so far.

"I enjoy coming to the capital and going back up the road with three points. It's the nicest feeling," he answered when asked about his record in Dublin following a 1-0 victory over previously top of the table Bohs.

His record in Dublin is actually representative of Derry's general away form having garnered an impressive 20 points from 24 available on the road this year.

Their away form, including back-to-back wins in difficult venues at Weavers Park and Dalymount, has propelled City to second place just two points adrift of Rovers.

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Friday's win over Bohs was particularly sweet given Derry leapfrogged the Dubliners into second, albeit on goal difference but Dalymount has been particularly kind to Higgins who represented the Gypsies in 2010 and made his Derry debut at the Phibsboro venue in 2004.

Derry City Ruaidhrí Higgins. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 41Derry City Ruaidhrí Higgins. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 41
Derry City Ruaidhrí Higgins. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 41

"I enjoy Dublin. I don't know what it is. Dalymount Park, I made my debut here 19 years ago as a player. I don't know what it is but we just seem to have a really good record here and hopefully that can continue.

"It's a huge three points,” he added. “I felt the first half we were absolutely brilliant, even when it was 11 v. 11. We started the game really well, dominated the ball and played some really good stuff.

"To be honest, we made life a bit hard on ourselves. We should've been coming in when we smelt blood in the first half we should've went for a second and a third. We didn't and ultimately the crowd got up and they got a wee bit of hope but we managed to see it out."

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Playing without a recognised striker for the first time this season raised a few eyebrows but with Ollie O'Neill in a false No. 9 role, Derry overloaded the midfield and dominated the ball in a one-sided opening 45 minutes which pleased Higgins.

Explaining his decision to leave his two available strikers Jamie McGonigle and Cian Kavanagh on the bench, Higgins said it was a tactic they had been working on during the week.

"Ollie came in and played deep and we overloaded the midfield and in the first half it worked absolutely perfectly. We worked on it all week and in the first half I thought there was some outstanding football and it worked.

"Basically what it allowed us to do was get control of the game. We wanted to come here and not match up and turn it into a physical contest. We wanted to try and dominate the ball and we did that for the whole first half and parts of the second half so thank God it worked."

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Ryan Graydon deservedly gave Derry a 14th minute lead just three minutes after Grant Horton was sent off for a foul on Michael Duffy who was clean through on goal.

Derry failed to capitalise on their dominance, however, and in the end Shane McEleney produced a match-winning headed clearance deep into stoppage time while Brian Maher had to parry clear Jordan Flores dangerous cross into the six yard box to ensure a second clean sheet on the trot and third in four games.

"Shane McEleney has made a brilliant defensive header in injury time but given the domination we had in the first half we deserved to win the game. We had them pinned in the first half and should've gone for the jugular and made the second half more comfortable for ourselves.

"But to come to Dalymount Park against Bohs who were on top of the league and win and deserve to win, it's a brilliant three points. The amount of travelling support was unbelievable and they played a huge part in getting the three points.

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"To come to Dalymount Park and win 1-0 and record back to back 1-0 wins away from home, we'll take it!"

Cameron Dummigan made his first appearance of the season as a second half substitute following 15 weeks on the sidelines to provide another injection of optimism for Derry and Higgins reckons his side have yet to hit top form.

"I don't think we've hit our full heights yet. We introduced Cameron Dummigan back into the team tonight which was a huge boost. Mark Connolly isn't too far away. Patrick McEleney isn't miles away either. If we keep digging in and hanging in there we'll be set up to go on a really good run and hopefully mount a decent challenge."

The return of Will Patching to the starting line-up for the first time since the 1-0 loss to Bohs in the reverse fixture last month, also provided a boost for Higgins who was delighted to see the ex-Man City youth return to form after an injury lay-off.

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"Will Patching was outstanding in the first half and looked like himself. He's been carrying an injury for a couple of months and continued to play through it but we got the issue sorted during the period he missed a few games and he's pain free now and I'm sure he will kick on."