'It's a tough start' - insists Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins
Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins says he’s excited to face his former club Dundalk at Oriel Park on the opening night of the 2022 season on February 18th.
Then, seven days later, the Candy Stripes take on SSE Airtricity Premier Division champions, Shamrock Rovers in their first game at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Higgins admitted his side couldn’t have been handed tougher fixtures to kick off the new campaign, adding there will be extra spice with the likes of Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy, Will Patching and Cameron Dummigan all making a quick return to Oriel Park.
“In terms of starts, without a doubt it’s the toughest possible one that we could have got,” insisted Higgins.
“Away to Dundalk and then home to Shamrock Rovers, two of the hardest games you could have wished for from the ‘magic computer’.
“The fixtures have thrown out a very interesting start for us. You look at the players Dundalk have kept in the last week or so and they are going to be right up there. There’ll be headlines made on players going back there so it’s going to be an interesting one.
“The game will obviously make a few headlines but it’s a very, very interesting start and, as I said, Dundalk will be right up there in my opinion come the end of the season.
“Then we have Shamrock Rovers at home in our second game, but listen I would imagine it’s going to be a packed house against the outstanding team of the last few years.
“Shamrock Rovers have been the team that have set the standards over recent years and it will be good for us to test ourselves against the best team in the country so early on.
“They beat us comfortably in the Brandywell at the end last season. I know we went 2-0 up but their second half performance at the Brandywell the last time we played them there was sensational. Hopefully there’s no repeat of that and we can get off to a good start.”
This season there will be no fixtures during the international windows in March and September while Monday night fixtures will be played on February 28, March 14, April 18 and May 23 and all SSE Airtricity Premier Division games will be broadcast live across traditional outlets and LOITV next season with details to be announced early in the new year.