Pat ​Hoban arrival the final piece of Ruaidhri Higgins’ Derry City jigsaw

​RUAIDHRI Higgins believes Pat Hoban has 'a lot of fire in his belly' to become an instant hit at Derry City and the Brandywell boss is hoping his arrival is the final piece of the jigsaw as he finalises a squad capable of bringing the league title to Foyleside.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

​Derry finished seven points behind champions Shamrock Rovers last season and scored 10 league goals less than the Dubliners with midfield pair Jordan McEneff and Will Patching finishing the campaign with eight goals apiece.

New signing from Dundalk, Daniel Kelly also netted eight times in the league from a wide position last term while Michael Duffy contributed seven.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Add Hoban to the mix, who fell one goal short of joining Jonathan Afolabi and Jack Moylan as Golden Boot winners for 2023, and suddenly Derry's front line looks as menacing as the best their title rivals can muster.

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

That's what Higgins is envisaging and the reason behind his determination to bring Hoban to Foyleside - a move he admits he was relieved to get over the line after prolonged negotiations with Dundalk over the past five weeks.

When asked if he was always confident he'd get his man, Higgins responded: "'Confident' is a bit of a stretch, but I knew the one that I wanted and we’ve got there in the end.

"Whether it’s five weeks or two weeks, we got the player that we wanted. You just never know in football. We got there in the end and I'm grateful to the club for supporting me in this one. Obviously [Jamie] McGonigle moved to Coleraine so we needed to fill that position and we've done it quite quickly.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We now have got five weeks to work with him and he’ll fit into the group seamlessly. As he said, he knows a lot of the players that are here.

"I know he's really, really motivated from conversations we've had. We had a really good chat last night at the hotel and he's really driven to come here and be a success.

"He's made huge sacrifices. He's got a three year-old daughter in Galway and it just shows he's got a lot of fire left in his belly. Hopefully he can achieve brilliant things over here over the next couple of years."

Dundalk's all-time record goalscorer arrives with the weight of expectation on his shoulders but Higgins described him as a natural No. 9 and he's confident he will get the service from a team which averaged 17 crosses into the box per game last season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He's really, really hungry to score goals. That's what drives him. That's what motivates him. I think it's a new challenge at the perfect time for him. I think he'll be really motivated by it.

"He knows he will get good service into the box from the players we have in the team and hopefully he can stay injury free and get really fit over the next few weeks and get ready for the start of the season.

"One thing Pat thrives off is crosses into the box, and we had the most in the league last year by a distance; we averaged 17 crosses a game, which will make him smile. Hopefully we can repeat that again, and we know if we can put good delivery into the box, there is no better man to get on the end of stuff.

"I’m absolutely delighted to be honest. I’ve known Pat for a long time. I’ve played with him, I’ve coached him and now I’m going to be his manager. There was a bit of work involved, but I’m absolutely delighted he’s going to be the number nine for Derry City now.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You would have to say consistently that he’s been the top striker in the country for a long time. His numbers speak for themselves, and probably the most impressive thing about his numbers are that half of his goals were the first goal scored in games.

"He either put his team in front, he equalised or he put them in front; he gets big, big goals and he’s a big game player, so I’m delighted to bring him here and I look forward to working with him again."

Higgins believes his squad is now complete and he's looking forward to seeing how they blend together in the coming weeks with Sunday's game against Finn Harps in Ballybofey offering him the chance to get them on the pitch. [K.O. 2pm at Ballybofey].

While Hoban's arrival has stolen the limelight, Higgins was quick to point out he's got lots of variety now in the attacking areas with Danny Mullen impressing in pre-season and Colm Whelan on track in his rehabilitation programme.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Listen Colm Whelan comes back hopefully in the not too distant future as well. Collie is doing really well in his rehab and we have Danny Mullen with a good preseason. So we have real talent in that area and Pat gives us something completely different as well with his experience and know-how and his big game player mentality,

“We're sure if we can keep him fit and bed him into the team as quickly as possible he'll be a big success here.

“We've got really good variety in our team and players who can bring different things to the table. There's a lot of games, particularly in the first half of the season and hopefully now we have the squad to handle it. Weve got really good balance in the team now.

"They've done a lot of hard work over the last while and I'm sure they will be delighted to see their kits hanging up again and get ready to play matches.

"We wont flog anyone at the weekend, they'll probably play a maximum of 45 minutes each and just get the legs going again."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​