Ruaidhri Higgins hails his lucky charm after Derry City's FAI Cup penalty shootout win

IN THE soaring mid-afternoon heat at pitchside in Drogheda, Ruaidhri Higgins wore an all-black zip-up Derry City rain jacket as he paced up and down the touchline for 120 minutes of an action-packed, absorbing FAI Cup tie.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 4:34 pm
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 4:37 pm
Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins celebrates the penalty shootout win with Evan McLaughlin, Nathan Gartside and Michael Harris. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

A strange choice of attire given the sweltering sunshine for an energy-sapping cup clash which had the pulses racing.

A 96th minute equaliser, two ‘stone-wall’ penalties not given, another missed, three red cards and a shoot-out later the jacket remained on.

Members of the club’s Merchandise Committee will of course be delighted and the manager’s choice of clothing could potentially shoot up sales as a result but Higgins explained afterwards he wasn’t making a fashion statement.

In fact the City boss was clutching his ‘lucky medal’ inside his jacket pocket throughout the intense encounter in the hope his charm would bring his team some much needed fortune and help keep their season alive.

Such faith he has in his lucky charm that when he left it behind in Derry for the club’s league clash with Dundalk last month, he had a member of staff return to the city changing room to pick it up before kick-off. On that occasion it didn’t do the trick as Derry came close to fighting back for a draw in a 2-1 loss but in Co. Louth at the weekend, the superstitious Higgins hailed his lucky medal after his team’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory saw them progress to the second round.

“People are asking me why I was wearing a rain jacket in 25 degrees heat but I have a lucky medal that I need a pocket for and I like to have it in either a tracksuit top or a coat but the tracksuit top is heavier than a coat,” he smiled. “But I was holding it and rubbing away at it and I was praying away to my granny and granda there,” he laughed. “Thankfully it did the job.”

When Dinny Corcoran put Drogheda ahead on the stroke of half-time against the run of play after Ronan Boyce was denied a penalty kick despite being brough crashing to the ground by Gary Deegan, Higgins admitted he feared the worst.

“Of course. I’m not going to lie. Who would be a manager? I don’t know how many games I’ve managed but we’ve experienced everything.”

And despite Drogheda manager Tim Clancy’s protestations for red cards shown to Dane Massey and James Brown and the two penalties given against his team in normal time, Higgins felt the officials got the key decisions right.

“That was a crazy game of football but in hindsight when you actually look at the decisions he (the referee) made, I don’t think he got an awful lot wrong to be honest. Obviously they’re going to feel aggrieved going down to nine men but it was just a mad game of football. It was 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, the sun beating out of the sky and it felt like you were in Spain at times with the heat. It’s a proper cup tie with loads of incidents but we’re in the next round and that’s all that matters.”