Ruaidhri Higgins dreaming of Aviva showpiece with Derry City as he hopes for favourable FAI Cup draw

RUAIDHRI Higgins admits thoughts of driving up the M1 from the Aviva Stadium with the FAI Cup trophy on display on the front of the team bus is fuelling his desire to go all the way in the competition.

By Simon Collins
Monday, 1st August 2022, 6:05 pm
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 6:09 pm

The ambitious Derry boss, who won the trophy twice as a player with the Candy Stripes in 2006 and 2012, is allowing himself to dream big and was delighted his team produced a ‘professional’ and ruthless display against Dublin minnows, Oliver Bond Celtic in the first round at Brandywell.

Much depends on the luck of the draw which takes place on Tuesday but Higgins insists his team are capable of beating anyone on their day and he reiterated his hopes of reaching this year’s FAI showpiece.

There were two notable shocks in the first round as holders St Patrick’s Athletic were dumped out at the hands of Waterford in Inchicore and Sligo Rovers were outdone by Wexford at the Showgrounds but all the other big hitters made it into the hat for the next stage.

Former Derry City kitman, Aidy Canning places the FAI Cup proudly on display on the Derry City team coach after winning the 2012 cup final at the Aviva Stadium.

Higgins played a strong starting XI against Oliver Bond to ensure there were no slip-ups on Foyleside after his first experience as manager in the competition in 2021 ended in a shock second round loss to Finn Harps last August, so he’s determined to avoid another early exit.

“It’s an amazing competition,” said the City boss. “It’s a showpiece event and we have a good history in the cup. I’ve been involved in two cup winning teams myself and I know what it means to people in Derry, there’s nothing like driving back up the road with the trophy at the front of the bus. You have to be ambitious and you have to dream of things like that. So why not us?

“There’s only two chances of silverware in this country so we have to be ambitious. We know on our day we’re capable of beating anyone. We have to set our sights on the Aviva and if we get there great but we’ll do everything we can.”

Derry didn’t get much fortune in the European draw when they were paired with Riga FC who beat them in both legs of their Europa Conference first round qualifier last month. Perhaps another home tie would be welcomed by Higgins in the second round?

Current Derry City manager, Ruaidhri Higgins (right) celebrates with the late Mark Farren, left and Gary Beckett, centre after the final whistle as the Candy Stripes beat St Pat's to win the FAI Carlsberg Senior Challenge Cup in 2006 at Lansdowne Road.

“Cup football is about the luck of the draw. I suppose you see the European draw, we didn’t get too lucky so hopefully we get a bit of good luck in the next round.

“We asked the players to be completely professional and show the right attitude and I think we did that. I’m delighted to be in the next round of the cup.”

It was a ruthless display from Derry against the Leinster Senior League side and Higgins was delighted to see four different goalscorers on the night.

“It was good for some of our attackers to score goals, that’s what it’s about. They came here and gave it absolutely everything as well and are a credit to their club. It’s a good win for us and we move on now to next week.

Ruaidhri Higgins, second from left, celebrates lifting the FAI Cup in 2012 at the Aviva Stadium.

“What it does is gives players confidence. It’s always important that attacking players are involved in goals, whether that’s assists or scoring themselves, so we’re delighted that a lot of them got in on the act.”

After a busy transfer window, the strength of Derry’s substitutes’ bench was a major pre-match talking point and Higgins is delighted to have so many top class options.

“We’ve definitely improved our squad, there’s no doubt about that and we’re delighted we have more options in attacking areas which is great as a manager. Hopefully we can see that in the latter stages of the season.

“This is our third window and we’re getting there. We’ve done really good business and all the hard work is hopefully worthwhile.”

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