Derry City striker Jamie McGonigle wants to be a Euro star

Derry City’s Jamie McGonigle admits he’s excited about the prospect of a European Conference League adventure this season.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Monday, 16th May 2022, 4:58 pm
Updated Monday, 16th May 2022, 5:02 pm

The talented front man also concedes facing European sides with the benefit of half a season under his belt is something he’s looking forward to and would love to play his part in any type of run in Europe.

McGonigle remembers the time when Norwegian side FK Haugesund gave him and his then Coleraine team-mates, which featured City’s vice-captain Ciaron Harkin, somewhat of a run around in the Europa League game in 2017.

“I’m looking forward to it, especially now that I’ll be actually fit going into Europe, because usually with the Irish League clubs you are usually off and you are just back into pre-season maybe a week or two and then you are trying to chase professional footballers around a pitch and it doesn’t last very long,” he joked.

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Derry City's Jamie McGonigle receives the SSE Airtricity/SWI Player of the Month for April at The Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. Picture by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

“I have been on the wrong end of a few thumping's. I remember one time when I came out on the wrong side of a 7-0 defeat to FK Haugesund, so hopefully it’s better this year.

“I think it’s better now the way they have it with the different formats, but it still depends on the luck of the draw in terms of who you get.

“You might have a chance of getting through a few rounds and maybe getting a wee European run, so hopefully that’s the case, but we’ll just wait and see who we draw and take it from there.

“It would be massive financially for the club if we could hopefully get through a few rounds and that money would help the club.”

The Dungiven native, who last week became the first City player since Barry McNamee some nine years ago to win the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month award for April, feels that the Candy Stripes are still on course in the league despite their recent dip in form.

The Brandywell men, who have only won two from their last seven league games, suffered a narrow, undeserved loss at champions Shamrock Rovers on Friday, a defeat which moved the Hoops four points clear of Derry.

“We have had a great start to the season,” he confirmed. “It’s a new squad and we are still gelling together and I think the main thing was that there was 24 points between Rovers and Derry last year and it’s just about closing that gap and to be honest just see where it takes us.

“There’s definitely improvement in the squad and you look at those couple of games where we scored 11 goals in two games and obviously we haven’t been scoring in our last two games, but I think the more we get to play together, the more we’ll gel together and the more it will click.

“We definitely have a good squad and I think we’re only going to get better, but we can’t look too far ahead of ourselves because that’s when you get bit, so we are just going to take it a game at a time and try to pick up a few wins.”

The former Crusaders frontman admits while winning the Player of the Month award was nice, he’s firmly focused on trying to reach that 20 goals for the season and having already scored nine league goals he’s well on course to doing that.

One man who will certainly play a part in helping the 26-year-old reach his target is Patrick McEleney and with the news that the talented midfielder’s hamstring injury isn’t as bad as first feared, McGonigle is pleased to see him return to action in a few weeks time.

“The Player of the Month is nice and obviously if you could get another one it would obviously be even better, but for me it’s all about trying to get goals to help the team win games and try to get towards that target of 20 goals,” he explained.

“It’s a blow especially for a player of Fats’ quality, because he can just turn a game on its head at the click of his fingers but thankfully it isn’t too bad and hopefully he’s back soon.”

Only last month, boss Ruaidhrí Higgins took his leading marksman out of the firing line, a decision, which McGonigle agreed with, but now the ex-Coleraine man wants to play his part and ensure he stays in the starting 11 each week.

“As long as I keep my name on the team-sheet I’m happy, but I know every week I have to just work as hard as I can, give everything and hopefully that’s enough to get me selected the following week,” he admitted.

“As I have said before, whenever I make the run in behind I know there’s a good chance the ball is going to be given to me, so it gives me the confidence to make them runs.

“It would be very easy if you were making runs and not getting it, to start giving up because you weren’t getting it but with the quality of players behind me, I’ll make runs all day.”