Derry City celebrate Ruaidhri Higgins' first year as manager in style

Derry City marked Ruaidhri Higgins' one year anniversary in charge with their biggest home win in over 10 years.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 12:08 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 12:10 pm
Derry City's hat-trick hero Jamie McGonigle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI
Derry City's hat-trick hero Jamie McGonigle. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The Limavady man replaced Declan Devine exactly one year ago today and the upturn in fortunes for the Candy Stripes has been impressive.

Since taking over Higgins has lifted the Brandywell men from the bottom of the Premier Division table, to securing European football for 2022 and more importantly gave the supporters hope and belief that they are now back challenging for the top honours.

His signings of Jamie McGonigle, Brian Maher, Will Patching, Cameron Dummigan, Brandon Kavanagh, Matty Smith, Michael Duffy, Patrick and Shane McEleney have all come up trumps, while young players such as Ronan Boyce and Cameron McJannet have really started to excel under his leadership.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

Last night's emphatic 7-1 win over bottom side UCD just summed Higgins' management style up, as City were ruthless and in truth could have won by more.

"It was a lovely way to celebrate it. It’s been an absolutely fantastic year with a lot of hard work and the players and staff have been a joy to work with,” stated Higgins. “It’s a huge privilege to be in the job and I hope I’m here for a long time, but we need to keep winning matches or that to be the case.

"It's a nice way to mark it, as it has been a while since we were in a really comfortable position in a game and it gave us the luxury to make changes and rest key personnel.

"What we asked for through the week was to become more ruthless and we made that clear after the game in Drogheda and we certainly got that tonight. We created a number of other chances as well, but we were ruthless in the first half and the game was over at half-time.

Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins is today exactly one year in charge of the club.

"I don't think you see many score lines like that at all in our league, so we are delighted with it."

Higgins was delighted by his teams attitude, especially after the break when he wanted them to win the second half, even though they were leading 5-0 at half-time. He also praised hat-trick hero Jamie McGonigle, Will Patching, Patrick McEleney and Matty Smith.

"What we said at half-time was that we wanted to win the second half as well, people pay good money to come and watch and it's important that we don't send them home bored, so I wanted us to keep trying to create chances and score goals," he stated. "I think while scored a couple, we also created another few chances and I was delighted.

"I have to say that I was thrilled with the players' professionalism and application in how we attacked the game, it was exactly what we asked for all week. We scored a few brilliant goals tonight, which we are delighted with.

"We took Jamie out on Monday night and that was because he literally needed freshened up. He has basically played every minute of every game, sometimes when we play a lone striker it can be a thankless task at times, so he needed a breather.

"I think you could see a wee bit of sharpness coming back into him towards the end of the game in Drogheda and tonight I thought he was magnificent, I thought his all round game and his finishing was superb and he could have had a couple more.

"The timing is really good because we go to a difficult venue next week (Richmond Park), so when Jamie's on song, he's hard to stop.

"Will Patching is on six goals, that's an outstanding return from a midfield player. I think special mention to Patrick (McEleney) for his pass and (Cameron) Dummigan's pass to (Jamie) McGonigle is exceptional as well.

"Matty Smith was also superb, that was his first 90 minutes all season, which is great, but his work-rate, drive and determination meant he was a threat all night and I'm sure that first goal will come sooner rather than later, especially if he continues to play the way he did tonight, as I thought he was outstanding."