Ruaidhri Higgins delighted with Derry City's willingness to 'go to the death' after stoppage time winner against Pats

Adam O'Reilly drives towards goal against his former club St Patrick's Athletic at Brandywell. Photo by Kevin Moore.Adam O'Reilly drives towards goal against his former club St Patrick's Athletic at Brandywell. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Adam O'Reilly drives towards goal against his former club St Patrick's Athletic at Brandywell. Photo by Kevin Moore.
RUAIDHRÍ Higgins hopes Danny Mullen's dramatic stoppage time winner against FAI Cup winners St Patrick's Athletic is a sign of Derry City's winning mentality and willingness to 'go to the death'.

Friday night's late victory was the first time since August 2020 the Brandywell outfit has managed to come from behind in the league to clinch all three points.

The fact it was against one of the expected main protagonists in the league title race made it even sweeter and gives Higgins' troops a psychological edge even at this early juncture in the new season.

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The City boss was delighted with his team's resilience and the impact of his substitutes as the Candy Stripes made it two wins from two at home and seven points from a possible nine after a difficult start.

"They're a good group of lads who care about each other and fight for each other," said Higgins after the 2-1 win. "I felt two seasons ago we scored a lot of late goals. Last season we didn't get enough late goals so hopefully that's a feature of the team. The fact we've won it in injury time will give us real confidence and momentum.

"There's elements we're disappointed with but elements we're delighted with in terms of resilience and going to the death and the impact of our substitutions. It's great for the group an great for the dressing room when you come from behind to win. Especially two second half goals. One around the 90th minute."

The RTÉ cameras rolled into town for the pick of the weekend's fixtures and while the television bosses at Donnybrook will have been breathing a sigh of relief as games in Dublin fell victim to heavy snow, that relief will have quickly changed to frustration as this chosen match was devoid of any entertainment during a snooze-fest of an opening 45 minutes.

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That is with the exception of a scuffle in front of the Derry dugout when Pat's players attempted to listen into Higgins' timely tactical team-talk during a stoppage in play.

Jordan McEneff picks out his pass during the first half. Photo by Kevin Moore.,Jordan McEneff picks out his pass during the first half. Photo by Kevin Moore.,
Jordan McEneff picks out his pass during the first half. Photo by Kevin Moore.,

Thankfully the game sparked into life at the start of the second half when Ruairi Keating capitalised on Ben Doherty's misplaced backpass with his first goal for his new club - a goal Higgins felt galvanised the Brandywell support and his players.

"I felt the first hour was poor, in and out of possession it was flat. Our change and change of personele, I felt we injected life and energy into the game. We definitely finished stronger and for the last half hour we were the better team. Did we deserve to win it? I don't really care but we managed to get it over the line and it's something last year we didn't do enough. I did feel once we equalised we had all the momentum and looked the most likeliest team.

"To be fair I have to mention the crowd. I felt at 1-0 in the second half when they scored the crowd got right behind us and urged the team on and I felt that gave us a lift and momentum in the game.

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"When Pat [Hoban] scored, it's a big, big goal from Pat. A great delivery and great header and that's what we want. We took over the game from then on.

"You look at Pat's career and over half of his goals at Dundalk were the first goal for his team so that's a huge goal. It shifts momentum and gets the crowd up and then we looked like the dominate team from then on."

Mullen came off the bench on 82 minutes to make an instant impact and his superbly taken goal in stoppage time was the perfect way for the Scotsman to celebrate his 29th birthday, particularly having been an unused sub for Derry’s opening two games of the campaign.

"It was an absolutely brilliant team goal to win it. Those bits of play were few and far between tonight but a real brilliant bit of play and brilliant finish on his birthday so he will be delighted with that.

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"His play when he came on, he was bright and creative and keep possession and got into the box when it went wide. I'm delighted for him because he's a good lad and it's been a wee bit of a frustrating time for him. We need people chipping in left right and centre. That's two centre forwards with goals today and it's great for the group."

While Shamrock Rovers had the night off Derry go into Monday's match with momentum and when it was pointed out the Brandywell men could edge nine points ahead of the champions with a win in Tallaght, Higgins was quick to curb those enthusiasm on Foyleside.

"It's a really difficult league so every three points is going to have to be hard earned. We had to go right to the death tonight to get the job done.

"Of course it is (an incentive to move nine points ahead of Rovers) but we'll be four games in after Monday so let's just chill out a wee bit. We have had difficult fixtures. We've got two wins out of three and seven points from nine which is a good start. Hopefully we can capitalise on that on Monday,” added the City manager.