Ronan Boyce 'not surprised' by Derry City's rampant start to season
RONAN Boyce isn't surprised by Derry City's unbeaten start to the Premier Division given the quality within the Brandywell club's dressing room.
Derry were tipped by many pundits to challenge Shamrock Rovers in a title race this year but no one could've predicted the run of results which sees the Candy Stripes six points clear on the summit as the first quarter of the season draws to a close this weekend.
City go into Saturday's North West derby match against Finn Harps in Ballybofey seeking a sixth straight victory in the league and while Boyce insists the team aren't in danger of losing the run of themselves, their rampant start to the season hasn't shocked anyone in the Derry camp.
"We have a lot of quality in our dressing room, a lot of top players so I'm not really surprised to be honest," said the Ramelton lad. "We just need to keep it going.
"I see the quality every day in training so I'm not surprised we are where we are. We have good players and the whole squad, in every position we have quality. Even the subs coming on (against UCD) were very good so I'm not surprised at all. We just need to build on it and not get complacent or thinking we're this and that because we're not. We still have a lot of work to do."
The 2-0 win against UCD was Derry's third clean sheet of the season and while Boyce has his goalscoring targets, having net seven times last year, he claims he took more pleasure from shutting out the Students.
"I'm probably more pleased with the clean sheet if I'm being honest. We knew we had to be patient down here and knew if we could keep the door shut then we'll always get a chance. It was a brilliant bit of magic from Patching which opened the scoring in the end.
"We had a lot of clear cut chances in the first half. We spoke at half-time and we were told to keep doing the basic things because you can come down here and get frustrated with the wall. We stuck to what we know and knew with the quality players we have up front we knew we would get a goal."
And Patching delivered in style from a free-kick on 67 minutes before Boyce finished the game off with a 10 yard 'screamer'.
"That was top quality (Patching's goal). It was unreal, the technique and he's a class player. It was some goal. We knew if we did get a goal their heads would drop and we kept plugging away and luckily I was there at the back stick to tap it home - a screamer so it was!," he laughed.
"I know it's probably a big ask but I set myself a target to get more goals than I got last year to try and get eight and chip in with more assists. I'm just trying to improve all the time, work on my game and get better and try to take it to another level."
That offensive wingback role suits his style and he's relishing the freedom on the wing.
"It suits me well because I'm comfortable enough defending and attacking is the part of my game I need to work on. I need to keep getting into those positions and work hard and keep trying to improve in that position as well."
The target now is to end the first series of games unbeaten after Saturday's trip to Ballybofey but Boyce isn't taking anything for granted against a Harps team eager to take the scalp of their North West neighbours.
"That would be great. That will be the first quarter of the season done. If you break it up into quarters it can help a lot. That's our goal now to finish off this first block of games strongly and hopefully take that on into the second block of games.
"We know how tough it's going to be. We only beat them once in five games last year so we know how tough it will be. Especially at Finn Park but we'll need no motivation to get up for a derby and we'll try our best to go down and win the game."