Goalkeeping coach Michael Dougherty excited about Derry City move

Derry City’s new goalkeeping coach Michael Dougherty can’t wait to get started in his new role.

The former Glentoran, Portadown, Crusaders and Larne net-minder has joined the Brandywell club, replacing Declan McIntyre and admits he's anxious to get out on the training pitch after he was offered the position following a 'surprise' call from manager Ruaidhrí Higgins and assistant Alan Reynolds.

Dougherty admits he was 'blown away' by the ambitions of the Derry management team and says the opportunity was simply too good to turn down.

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"After the cup final, which I watched on TV, I received a phone call out of the blue from Ruaidhrí basically asking if I would be interested in sitting down with him and Rennie,” he said.

Derry City's Brian Maher met the club's new goalkeeping coach Michael Dougherty in Dublin just before Christmas.

"While I was a little bit surprised because of all the jobs that you think are becoming available it wasn’t on the list because Declan McIntyre was in place there and I know that he did a great job, but I told Ruaidhrí I would meet them.

"After keeping a close eye on the League of Ireland and sitting at home watching the cup final, I could see where the club was going and I thought I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t sat down with them and after the meeting I was blown away.

"I left thinking this club is going onto a different level. My memories of Derry City was playing against them in 2007 Setanta Cup with Glentoran at the Brandywell and the one thing that struck me that night was the fan base and it was probably the best atmosphere I ever played in front of.

"It was unbelievable and after seeing the cup final that was just different levels and it was unbelievable to see. Twenty plus thousand fans there, so leaving the meeting I was just so excited and it’s an unbelievable opportunity for me as a young goalkeeping coach.”

Derry City's new goalkeeping coach Michael Dougherty pictured in his Crusaders strip ahead of the 2016/17 season. Picture by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
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Dougherty, also believes getting the chance to work with former Republic of Ireland U21 international Brian Maher is something which excites him.

"Whenever I spoke to the management team a huge part for me was getting the chance to work with Brian," he insisted.

"Working with him excited me as well, coming into the club to work with a young talented goalkeeper who is hungry for success and who wants to get better, so when I looked at everything he was a massive, massive plus for me.

"The one thing that I can compliment myself over the last four or five years is that I have tried to become a real student of goalkeeping, not just looking at the Irish League, but looking at the League of Ireland, looking at Europe and looking at England. Doing a lot of club visits to the Premier League clubs to see how they work, what they're looking for and try to better myself as a coach, but really studying goalkeeping as a whole.

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"I've been going right into the stats and the analysis of training, recording training, looking at what opposition do and it's clear how talented Brian is. He was obviously the stand out goalkeeper in the division. I think him and Alan Mannus have been exceptional and Brian is obviously at the better end of the age scale, to have a bigger, bigger future in the game.

"We start pre-season on January 2nd, but I travelled down to Dublin a few days before Christmas to meet Brian and we went through kind of my plans for the goalkeepers and for him in terms of a training perspective and from a performance perspective from what I'm looking from him but equally we had a very open conversation in terms of what he wants from me in terms of training and day to day support, because I think that's massively important that we have to start off in a good relationship and build on that.

"I’m also excited about working with Tadhg Ryan and all the goalkeepers at the club and I just can't wait to get started now, I'm just buzzing to get in on the first day and no doubt I'll be down early sitting there like I'm on my first day at school. I can't wait to meet the boys and get back to work."

The 43-year-old who coached alongside Declan Devine, Jim Magilton and David Healy at Northern Ireland underage international level, played with City centre-back Shane McEleney at Larne and feels what's happened with the Inver Park club is starting to take place at the Brandywell, but on a bigger scale.

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"I experienced that a little bit at Larne, although at a much smaller scale but when I was there as a player they did a great job getting everyone to buy into it, the whole community bought into it and it wasn't just about a football team trying to win a league, it was about the town and the difference it could make to people's lives and as crazy as that might seem to some people it was the truth," he added.

"You saw it day to day about the town, you were speaking to fans and young kids who just wanted to talk about Larne and I think Derry is no different, only on a much, much bigger scale.

"Just talking to people around football who've been in and around the club a little bit over the last couple of years, they've sort of cemented that and told me that this club is going one way and there will never be a better time to get on board, so the fans is huge for Derry and that's what has drove them in recent years more than anything."