Defence the key to success at Pat’s

Setanta Sports Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg, Hunky Dory Park, Drogheda 11/3/2013'Drogheda United vs Derry City'Drogheda United's David Cassidy with Shane McEleney of Derry City'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Setanta Sports Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg, Hunky Dory Park, Drogheda 11/3/2013'Drogheda United vs Derry City'Drogheda United's David Cassidy with Shane McEleney of Derry City'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy

DERRY City could climb onto the summit of the Airtricity Premier Division table if they manage to defeat St. Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park this evening. (7.45 p.m.)


However, for Ruaidhri Higgins, such a scenario would not prove to be a motivating factor given the fact that the 2013 season is just 10 weeks old.

“In any event, Sligo will entertain Drogheda United on Saturday, so even if we did manage to overcome St. Patrick’s Athletic, the situation would change again 24 hours later,” he answered.

“And while going top of the table would not be a motivating factor, I don’t believe our defeat of them in the FAI Cup final will have any bearing on Friday night’s match.

“Both sides will have players who played in Aviva Stadium last November, but both also have players who did not play in that match, so I don’t see the cup final result being significant.”

Indeed, for Higgins it will come down to the team which defends better on the night, of that he had no doubt.

“Full credit to our back five who have been magnificent this season. They’ve been recording clean-sheets since the start of the season and if the defence is managing that, then chances are teams with a goal threat will win matches and, from my point of view, that’s exactly what’s been happening us this season.

“So with both teams boasting quite a few players with a goalscoring threat, so much will depend on the respective defensive units,” maintained Higgins.

“I think the team that defends best on the night will win the match. I also think it will be close, but we’re travelling to Dublin to win - as we have always done.”

Insisting that Derry City had always been “set-up to win matches,” the Limavady man was adamant that opting for defensive tactics in the hope of holding out for a share of the spoils was not in Derry’s best interests.

“Every match we play we are set-up to win it, there’s no doubt about that. We have match-winners in the panel, players who have the ability to turn games and, this season in particular, we have goal threats throughout the squad.

“It really doesn’t suit us to sit back and and try to get something from the game with defensive tactics. There are so many different ways to win a match, but with the attacking flair we have in the team, our policy has always been to win matches.

“There’s no doubt that we have the ability to score goals, but we’re also a miserly lot at the back and that has stood us in good stead.”

On the team front, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, will welcome the return of Shane McEleney following his controversial one match ban but he must plan without the services of winger, Paddy Kavanagh, who is out for a few weeks with a hamstring problem.

Kevin Deery, Stewart Greacen and Sean Houston all remain in the treatment room while Barry Molloy (hamstring) and Thomas Crawley (groin) are both expected to undergo pre-match tests.

“Barry and Thomas have not trained this week but, hopefully, both will be okay for the St. Pat’s match,” confirmed Devine last night.

“It’s yet another big challenge for us and I’ve no doubt our players will again rise to the occasion as they have done in the past. We hold no fears at travelling to Inchicore, but St. Pat’s will be afforded the respect they deserve as Liam Buckley has added to his panel and I’m not surprise they are up there challenging near the top of the table.

“St. Pat’s may have lost a few players to Shamrock Rovers since we last played them in the FAI Cup Final, but they’ve added quality players such as Killian Brennan and Conan Byrne who have not been bad since their arrival.

“While we certainly got a great boost when ending Shamrock Rovers’ unbeaten run, Pat’s prepared for our game with an excellent victory over the league champions, Sligo Rovers, with an excellent home win,” added Devine.

“Live” Radio Coverage

Both local radio stations will be broadcasting from Richmond Park this evening.

BBC Radio Foyle will have Eric White in the commentary box and he will be assisted by former Republic of Ireland and, indeed, St. Pat’s manager, Brian Kerr.

They will broadcast the match on 792 Medium Wave with the programme commencing at 7.30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Drive 105, will also be broadcasting the game live from Inchicore. Their “Match Night Live” programme will have Martin Devine and Ciaran McCauley relaying the action with the programme also getting underway at 7.30 p.m.