RONAN Curtis believes Derry City can take full advantage of the distractions faced by the teams above them and launch a silent assault on European qualification.
With third placed Bray Wanderers facing financial uncertainty and Shamrock Rovers currently preoccupied in the Europa League, Curtis reckons Derry can begin to make ground on their top of the table rivals.
And after a thumping 4-0 demolition of Sligo Rovers at Maginn Park last Sunday afternoon Curtis is gunning for another crucial three points at Richmond Park which would see them climb into fourth spot.
“I think we’re only one point behind Rovers with a game in hand,” he said. “So if we go tomorrow and beat Pat’s and then beat Bohs that’s six points and the table will be looking a lot better for us.
“We knew going into the Sligo game they weren’t playing well but it wasn’t a case of them not playing well on the day, we just played really well and moved the ball quicker. We had a tempo about our game, created chances and it could’ve been 6-0 or 7-0.
“We’re a good side and we we knew what we had to do after the Midtjlland game. We knew we needed to get back on track quickly with a couple of wins that would move us up the table.
I was hoping for 10 to 12 goals this season and it’s starting to look realistic now having got four from six.Ronan Curtis
“Europe’s over and done with now and we can’t sit and sulk about it. We just have to make sure we’re there again next year.”
The St Johnston man is certainly a man on a mission having netted four times in the last six matches to take his season’s tally to six goals in all competitions - including his first Europa League strike in the first leg against FC Midtjlland. Not a bad return from a man playing predominantly on the left wing!
But the Republic of Ireland U21 striker isn’t about to let up and has set his sights on taking his personal account to double figures before the season’s end.
He’s already scored against St Patrick’s Athletic this season in the 2-2 draw at Maginn Park last April and he’s hoping he can deliver again as Kenny Shiels troops go for two wins on the bounce at Inchicore tonight.
“I always said I wanted to get into double figures this year with goals,” said Curtis. “I was hoping for 10 to 12 goals this season and it’s starting to look realistic now having got four from six. So it hasn’t been too bad so far.
“I just want to score goals and help get us up the table. We all work really hard at training.
“It’s been a good year for me personally so far. I’ve scored a goal in Europe and I’ll never forget that one. I’ve been playing well for the Ireland U21s as well, so it’s been good.
“I’d just like to thank everyone who has given me the opportunity, especially Kenny (Shiels) who has given me the opportunity to come in and play and I’ve taken his advice on board and I’ve played well.”
Curtis was feeling unwell at training yesterday but Shiels will give him until the final hour before making a decision on whether he starts the game. However, the in-form striker is hoping he gets the nod so he can continue his rich vein of form.
“I had a light head and a bit of dizziness but we’ll see tomorrow how I feel,” he said. “I’m just enjoying my football at the minute which is the main thing and playing week-in, week out so I want that to continue.
“I don’t mind where I’m playing as long as I’m playing football. I’d call myself a goalscorer - I’m a striker who plays on the wing and I’m always looking to get goals or create them.
“It doesn’t matter who scores them as long as the team wins and we perform well.”
Curtis, who joined City from Swilly Rovers in 2014, has scored the majority of his goals this season in the first half. He netted his first against Drogheda United four minutes before the interval and the equaliser against St Pat’s on 39 minutes.
His next goal came after five minutes in the 2-1 win over Galway United while he scored the first of Derry’s two goals on 22 minutes in the 3-2 defeat to Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds last month.
His workrate has been impressive of late and he certainly likes to hit the ground running in matches. He’s determined to make a similar impact against the Saints tonight but is expecting a tough test against a team who, despite fighting for survival, have strengthened in the transfer window.
“We’ve been playing well together as a team and hopefully that continues on Friday night. We play St Pat’s tomorrow and I know they’re in a bad patch at the moment but you can’t take anything for granted. We have to do what we can to get the three points and hopefully we can do the same thing next week against Bohs.
“We were all over them and we were creating some very good chances. We played well that night as well but it was probably a lack of concentration which cost us. It’s set up for a good game.
“ I think they’ve brought in a few new players so it’ll be a good game and it’s a lovely pitch as well. Let’s hope we get the job done.”