League of Ireland football has become an 'extremely ruthless industry' says Derry City boss

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​RUAIDHRI Higgins expressed his 'surprise' at how League of Ireland football has become an 'extremely ruthless industry' after Jon Daly became the THIRD top flight manager to be sacked in the opening three months of the season.

​St Patrick's Athletic parted ways with the former Rangers and Dundee United star on Tuesday after their seventh defeat of the season in Sligo on bank holiday Monday - six months after winning the FAI Cup with the Inchicore men.

Daly followed in the footsteps of Higgins' close friend Stephen O'Donnell at Dundalk and his predecessor at Derry City, ex-Bohs boss Declan Devine.

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Both Devine and O'Donnell have been fortunate to secure employment quite quickly after losing their respective managerial roles with the former appointed Glentoran boss and the latter taking up the assistant manager position at Bohemians.

Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins.  Photograph: George Sweeney.Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins.  Photograph: George Sweeney.
Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins. Photograph: George Sweeney.

Certain League of Ireland club bosses appear to have adopted a trigger-happy approach most widely associated with English football in recent times and Higgins insists you have to be 'half mad' to want to be a football manager.

"I was surprised [at Daly's departure] because 15 games ago St Pat's won the cup, so it just shows you it's an extremely ruthless industry," Higgins reflected. "I've always said it, when you go into management, 99% of managers get sacked in their careers, so you expect to get sacked at some point, but I just felt it was a wee bit soon.

"As I said, only a few months ago, Jon and the players were lifting the FA Cup, but it's the nature of the industry that we're in, and it comes to everybody's door at some stage."It's a precarious job nowadays in Ireland with Shamrock Rovers' Stephen Bradley (2016) and Galway United's John Caulfield (2020) the only two Premier Division managers who have been in their posts longer than Higgins who took charge at Brandywell in 2021.

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“I never ever associated this league with being like that, but in recent times clubs react very, very quickly now and as I said 15 or 16 games ago, Jon Daly and his players and his staff won the FA Cup, so it just seems quite ruthless. But listen, it's each to their own.

"Football management is a strange gig to get into. I think you have to be half-mad to go into it, but it is what it is. As I said, it will come to everybody's door at some stage. If it doesn't, then you're one of the few very, very lucky ones.”

There's so much at stake nowadays for clubs who are perhaps requiring European qualification to balance the books and it's likely not a coincidence it's teams like Bohemians, Dundalk and St Pat's - three teams who are regularly battling it out for the European positions - who have swung the axe first when things haven't been going well on the pitch.

“Europe is big for the likes of the clubs that you mentioned and ourselves," agreed Higgins. "The clubs that you mentioned, it is really important, but we're only 15 games into a 36-game season, so there's plenty of points available.

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"People in their positions have the power to make whatever decisions they want, and if they feel that that's the right one for them, good luck to them. But I just feel, given the job that he'd done previously, I'm a wee bit surprised at how quickly this sort of decision was made.

“A few results can shoot you up a few places but it's not that long ago they beat Rovers in Inchicore, they beat Drogheda last week, so it hasn't been all doom and gloom. But listen it's not really for me to discuss. I don't know what goes on in the ins and outs of other clubs, I only know what goes on here, and I can only focus on that.”

"But I think it's the first time in a long time I can ever remember three managers out of ten that have lost their jobs in the first three or four months of the season.

"And to be honest, I've no doubt Jon Daly will go on and kick on, and Stevie O'Donnell, and Decky’s obviously got the Glentoran job and good luck to him, but I do feel that things can be done a wee bit too soon, really.”