'It's not just about goals!" - Ruaidhri Higgins praises 'selfless' striker Jamie McGonigle

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​RUAIDHRI Higgins expressed admiration for 'selfless' Derry City striker Jamie McGonigle, describing his showing against Shelbounre on Friday night as the Dungiven man's 'best performance of the season'.

​McGonigle prides himself on his impressive goalscoring record and 'hunger' for more and he was disappointed not to add to his tally at Tolka Park - one of the few grounds in the league he's not found the net.

Paddy Barrett denied him an early goal when clearing his effort off the line after he neatly side-stepped the keeper before firing towards goal.

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"It was brilliant play," said Higgins. "He gambled off Ryan Graydon's flick-on, great touch past the keeper and he was unlucky not to score. I just thought he tied up a lot of people in terms of positions he was taking up and it freed up Graydon and Ollie O'Neill and Will Patching.

Derry City striker Jamie McGonigle remonstrates with the match officials after his goal was ruled out against Sligo Rovers. Photograph by Kevin Moore.Derry City striker Jamie McGonigle remonstrates with the match officials after his goal was ruled out against Sligo Rovers. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Derry City striker Jamie McGonigle remonstrates with the match officials after his goal was ruled out against Sligo Rovers. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

"His performance on Friday night set a standard without getting his goal, he set a standard in terms of how he led the line.

"That's what I liked about him, he showed physical stature, he was very physically strong and did all the ugly side of the game really well and showed moments of quality too."

Goals are not the sole barometer of a striker's quality but they hold the most sway and the former Crusaders and Coleraine marksman will be desperate to get back on track in a Brandywell double header against Drogheda United and Bohemians.

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Higgins, however, was delighted with the striker's all-round play and is confident the goals will come as he complimented McGonigle's energy and industry in the 1-0 win against a dogged Shels.

In fact the City boss insists he would be quite happy if McGonigle didn't score every week but produced similar performances where he occupies centre-halves, creates space and has the ability to receive the ball with his back to goal.

"All his performance missed on Friday night was a goal," said Higgins afterwards. "I thought he was absolutely brilliant, how he led the line. He was selfless in his approach and I thought it was his best performance of the season by a long, long way."

McGonigle gave the experienced Barrett a torrid time up until the Shels centre-half saw red for a second bookable offence when striking him with his flailing arm early in the second half.

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He also sent Ben Doherty through on goal after taking a delicious touch to control Brian Maher's long punt upfield - a moment which impressed Higgins.

"His play with his back to goal was outstanding and he worked so hard. He produced an amazing piece of quality in the second half where he takes a brilliant touch and puts Ben (Doherty) through. I generally thought his all round play in the game was outstanding. If he performs like that and doesn't score every week I'll take it because he's occupying people and frees up space for others.

"He's hungry for goals and that's what I like about him but he played for the team first and foremost last night as he always does but generally his performance should give him loads of confidence and he could go from strength to strength from that."

McGonigle has scored just once in the opening seven matches, a stat which will no doubt irk him but it could and should've been a better return having had one chalked off in controversial fashion by the match referee in the 1-1 draw with Sligo at Brandywell before the break.

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At this stage of the season last year McGonigle had netted four times in the opening five games earning himself a contract extension and Higgins believes he's improved his game considerably in the convening months.

Strikers are judged on their goals but Higgins believes that's a 'lazy' opinion'.

"That's a lazy view and the way a lot of people look at things but you look at some centre forwards all over Europe who don;t get loads of goals but they play every week because of what they bring to the team. Of course, we play Jamie to score goals but if he doesn't score goals and performs like he did against Shels then we'd take that every day."

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