The return of playmaker, Ruaidhri Higgins, was significant according to City boss Stephen Kenny, the midfielder’s performance dominating the Dubliner’s after-match comments.
SIMON COLLINS reports
Mystified by the criticism directed at the player from some sections of the Brandywell Faithful, and his decision to re-sign the Limavady man in the close season, Kenny felt the midfielder proved his detractors wrong with a commanding performance on Friday night.
It was Higgins’ first start since sustaining a thigh injury during the opening match of the season and he merged effortlessly into the squad.
“One of the most pleasing aspects of the game was Ruaidhri Higgins’ performance,” said Kenny.
“I was being asked a few questions about Ruaidhri Higgins and a lot of people were asking ‘why did I sign him?’ asking ‘why we need him?’ It wasn’t widespread, people have mixed views about him, some people like him, some people are not so hot on him.
“And you could see why I signed him with his performance against Dundalk. He controlled the midfield and was very influential in the game. His accuracy and intelligent passing was top notch.
“Ruaidhri Higgins is a big asset to Derry City. I realise that, the other players realise that. Everyone has the right to form their own opinion, but he is a big asset to us.”
It was wholesome praise indeed from the Derry boss and Higgins is clearly not dwelling on any criticism directed his way as he is relishing his role as one of the senior members of the squad.
“I’m enjoying it,” declared the player. “I’ve had a stop-start pre-season where I had a lot of niggles. I played the first game of the season, pulled my thigh muscle and was a bit frustrated being out for four weeks and my thigh seems to be holding up okay now and I’m just delighted to be back.
“It’s the first time I’ve really been involved in a squad where I’m one of the most experienced members and I’m really enjoying playing alongside the likes of the two McEleneys, James McClean and Daniel Lafferty.”
Echoing the sentiments of his manager, Higgins believes Derry’s lofty position in the league table doesn’t flatter the team in any way.
“Having played arguably the top three teams in the Premier Division at the Brandywell we were unfortunate to only come out with four points from the three games.
“It just goes to show that we can be a match for any team in the Premier Division and if we can reproduce performances like that, then I’m confident that we could pick up a lot of points this year,” concluded the midfielder.