Ruaidhri Higgins urges Derry City players to return 'hungry to attack' final 13 games of title run-in

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​RUAIDHRÍ Higgins has called on his Derry City players to return from their five days mid-season break 'hungry and ready to attack' the final 13 league games of the season.

​Danny Mullen's 94th minute winner against Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday night ensures the Candy Stripes will resume their campaign on June 28th against Drogheda from a position of strength.

They remain just two points behind leaders Shelbourne who they must still play twice before the end of the season, including the final match of the 2024 league schedule at Brandywell on November 1st!

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Damien Duff's side have a game in hand over their nearest rivals but Higgins was delighted to keep the pressure on the Tolka Park club as they prepare to enter the 'business end of the season'.

Sadou Diallo is congratulated after his first half equaliser against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photographs by Kevin Moore.Sadou Diallo is congratulated after his first half equaliser against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photographs by Kevin Moore.
Sadou Diallo is congratulated after his first half equaliser against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photographs by Kevin Moore.

It's now five games unbeaten and three wins on the spin for the first time in 13 months for Higgins' troops who appear to be building up ahead of steam at the perfect time.

And so Higgins, who flew off to Spain for a mini-break with his family after the match, is hoping they pick up where they left off after the midseason interval.

"I'm delighted," beamed the Brandywell boss. "We've come from behind here to win and the players have shown resilience and deserve a few days off with their families.

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"Hopefully they don't enjoy it too much and come back refreshed and raring to go.

Danny Mullen celebrates his match winner at Dalymount Park on Friday night. Photograph by Kevin Moore.Danny Mullen celebrates his match winner at Dalymount Park on Friday night. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Danny Mullen celebrates his match winner at Dalymount Park on Friday night. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

"We've only got 13 league games left so we're going into the business end and want everyone hungry and ready to attack the last third of the season.

"It's been a group effort. We've had a good couple of weeks. We set ourselves up nicely to attack the last 13 league games.

"Wins are hard fought in this league. It's been an extremely competitive league and to get three wins on the spin in this league is difficult so the players deserve all the credit."

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Bohs keeper Kacper Chorazka produced stunning saves to deny both Michael Duffy and Pat Hoban in the first half but Derry paid the price for a sloppy start when Ben Doherty's misjudged pass towards Sadou Diallo was intercepted by Dayle Rooney and Diallo clumsily brought him down inside the area.

Michael Duffy rises about Shane McEleney to win this header against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photograph by  Kevin Moore.Michael Duffy rises about Shane McEleney to win this header against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photograph by  Kevin Moore.
Michael Duffy rises about Shane McEleney to win this header against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

Brian Maher saved smartly from Jordan Flores' spotkick but Danny Grant reacted quickest and poked home the rebound on 15 minutes.

Derry's response was immediate and Will Patching's cross was met by a brilliant first time finish from Diallo who made amends for his earlier mistake.

It looked as if Derry would be held by the Gypsies with Shels earning a win at Waterford until Mullen came off the bench to make a vital contribution in the race for the title.

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Higgins agreed there were few others he would rather see the ball drop to in those pressure situations as the Scotsman produced a clinical finish in stoppage time for his sixth goal of the season.

Michael Duffy's first half header is saved superbly by the Bohemians keeper.Michael Duffy's first half header is saved superbly by the Bohemians keeper.
Michael Duffy's first half header is saved superbly by the Bohemians keeper.

"Unbelievable feeling when the ball hit the net and an even better feeling when the final whistle went," said the Derry manager. "Nothing beats a last minute goal. I think it was completely deserved. Over the course of the game we created all the opportunities.

"The penalty comes from our mistake. The chance for Dayle Rooney comes from our mistake but again we've created a good number of chances in the game.

"And the players kept going right until the bitter end. It's an unbelievable goal to win it. I'm so proud of them. I see what they put in on a weekly basis. I see how much it means to them."

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And for goal hero Mullen, Higgins was particularly pleased given how he's shown patience and professionalism despite the obvious frustration of not starting regularly..

"I'm really pleased for Danny Mullen because he's needed to be extremely patient but he's got some huge goals for us. That's his sixth league goal of the season and he should be really proud of himself. He conducts himself brilliantly.

"We've spoken about how important it is to have a squad. We have so much talent that we can introduce to games. Danny got a massive winner against St Pat's in the early stages of the season and a massive winner here tonight.

"I said to him coming on, he got a big goal at the same end last season down here. Listen , he's got some very, very important goals. It's obviously been hard for him and frustrating but he's been an outstanding pro. He's the last off the training pitch every day and he's a credit to himself. And that's what you get when you put in the application and work.

“We brought energy and legs onto the pitch and it paid off. Sometimes you get a wee bit of luck when you're brave and I thought we were brave.”