Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins impressed by Finn Harps as country’s two in-form sides prepare for FAI Cup tie of round encounter

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins has described Friday night’s FAI Cup second round tie at North West rivals Finn Harps as ‘mouth watering’.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 7:00 am
Ruaidhri Higgins, Derry City manager. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI
Ruaidhri Higgins, Derry City manager. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The two rivals go into the encounter in fantastic form, Ollie Horgan’s side having won their last four games while the Candy Stripes are aiming for their sixth successive victory, a feat that they haven’t managed since 2018.

Higgins, along with the club’s Technical Director, Paddy McCourt, watched the Donegal men secure an impressive 3-1 win over title contenders St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday.

Striker Tunde Owolabi helped himself to a hat-trick against the Saints, becoming the first Harps player to score a treble in the top flight since former Brandywell favourite Jonathan Speak in 1997, and the Derry boss was impressed by the frontman.

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“I thought Harps were excellent against St Pat’s. They were a real threat on the break and caused Pat’s problems so it’s going to be a hugely tough game on Friday night,” he confirmed.

“We keep moving on, keep pushing and have a really good game to look forward to. It’s two teams in decent form, two teams that will have a go at each other and hopefully we come out on top.”

The Candy Stripes squad received an unwelcomed reminder of the times we are living in as Covid related issues hit the camp again on Saturday night at Sligo with both Cameron McJannet and James Akintunde forced to miss the game.

However, Higgins was delighted to see Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and Jack Malone, who came into the side as replacements, play their part in the victory at the Showgrounds.

“We are on a good run of form, confidence is high in the group and we have a mouth watering clash at Finn Harps to look forward to,” he added.

“We’ve had a few small set-backs recently with a couple of players missing but we’ve adopted and brought people in. We lost Eoin (Toal) and Junior against Drogheda but people came in and took their chance and it was the same against Sligo.

“The lads have responded brilliantly. They have built that winning mentality and that drive so hopefully that can continue.”

Ronan Boyce’s late winner highlighted once again the ‘never say die’ attitude Higgins feels all trophy winning teams must have in their locker.

“It’s hugely important to keep going right to the end,” he insisted.

“All the best teams do that. You look at Shamrock Rovers this year, from the 93rd minute on they’ve gained six points against Longford Town alone. That’s six points gained from the 93rd minute, that’s unbelievable, so the best teams all do that.

“For us to keep improving and to keep evolving, scoring late goals is really important but so far we have managed to score quite a few which is really encouraging.”