Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins expecting tough derby night at Finn Harps

Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins says confidence is high ahead of Saturday night’s North West derby at Finn Harps (KO 5.30pm).

By Kevin McLaughlin
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 5:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 5:54 pm
Alan Reynolds has superbly settled into life back on Foyleside.
Alan Reynolds has superbly settled into life back on Foyleside.

The Brandywell men have won five games in a row and while the likes of Will Patching, Ronan Boyce, James Akintunde and Jamie McGonigle have been grabbing the headlines, Higgins singled out the work being done by his back-room team and in particular his assistant, Alan Reynolds. The City boss describes the commitment shown by the Republic of Ireland U21 number two as ‘top notch’.

“We’re on a good run. We’ve had five wins in the spin which I think we did last year as well and it’s a fantastic return. The players deserve all the credit but the staff have also been brilliant,” he stated.

“People talk about the signings on the pitch but Alan Reynolds, to me, has been an absolutely fantastic addition to this group. He’s someone I have known for a long time and I can’t speak highly enough about him and what he brings to the group. ‘Rennie’ has made unbelievable sacrifices coming up here from Waterford.

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“Obviously when things go well you get pats on the back but there’s so much more that goes on here that supporters may not see. Everyone in the coaching staff and behind the scenes work so hard.

“They’re all playing a huge role and, as a group, there’s good chemistry between the staff as well and I think it’s important that is recognised as well.”

The Limavady man stated that the Candy Stripes squad for their trip to Ballybofey will be similar to the one that picked up maximum points at Bohemians and UCD and while the likes of Ciaran Coll, Nathan Gartside, Jack Malone and Akintunde haven’t yet had much game time this year, Higgins says everyone in the changing room is pulling in the same direction.

“We’ll have the same squad available as we did at UCD on Monday night but we’ll have to be clever in terms of what team we pick given what we are going into,” he added.

“It isn’t hard to keep everyone happy, because there’s a real good bond between them. As the team are winning matches I think the players who aren’t in the team at the minute respect that but they are fighting for their team-mates, everyone is together and it’s a really, really good bunch of people.

“As a player I was in and out of teams a lot of my career as well so I know exactly what it’s like and it’s not easy. As I said though, they’re good people and they have got good values. They know if they stick at it their opportunities will come.”

Last season the Candy Stripes defeated Harps only once while the Donegal men secured two victories and the other two league games were drawn. Higgins is expecting another tough test at Finn Park this weekend and has laughed off Ollie Horgan’s attempts to play the game down.

“It’s a very difficult game, they’re always well organised. I think Ollie has done a brilliant job over the years, he probably doesn’t get the credit that he deserves in my view,” he explained.

“He’s down playing it like he always does but there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll believe that they can turn us over on Saturday night. However, we believe that we can go there and win it as well so it makes for an interesting game and a game that we are looking forward to.

“The cup game was a terrible game, both teams were terrible. They edged it but in the league it was a win apiece and two draws, so there wasn’t much in it. We have a slight different team now and they have a different team, but we can’t read too much into it.

“It’s the first derby of the season and we want to come out on top, that’s the ultimate goal.”