Shamrock Rovers are the bench mark insists Derry City's Jamie McGonigle

Derry City’s Jamie McGonigle knows that champions, Shamrock Rovers continue to be the benchmark for all League of Ireland clubs.

Derry City's James Akintunde skips away from Dundalk defender Sam Bone. Picture by Kevin Moore/mci
Derry City's James Akintunde skips away from Dundalk defender Sam Bone. Picture by Kevin Moore/mci

McGonigle believes the Dubliners, who are aiming for their third title in a row, will again be the team to stop ahead of their encounter at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium this Friday (KO 7.45pm).

Stephen Bradley’s side enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 success over newly promoted UCD in last Friday’s opening series of fixtures. Twenty-five year old McGonigle says he always expected the Hoops to see off the Students but is hoping the passionate Candy Stripes support can help City over the line this week.

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“Rovers have been the benchmark in the league over the past number of years and that hasn’t changed,” he explained, “It’s no disrespect, but they were expected to win on Friday night (against UCD), so there’s no shock there. It’s all about us just recovering now and hopefully we can take the points off them this week.

“The support (against Dundalk) was brilliant and it helped. It would have been easy on a cold night when going behind to throw the towel in but with the fans behind us the noise kept us going and when we equalised I felt that we were going to go on and win. Hopefully that sets us up for a big clash now back at the Brandywell when there’ll be even more fans.”

The former Coleraine front man was the crossbar’s width away from winning Friday night’s game at Oriel Park when his close range strike in the dying minutes came crashing back off the woodwork. That miss is something which McGonigle admits will have kept him awake thinking about it.

“I probably will because the goal and the assist means nothing when I miss something like that,” he added.

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“Talking about it in the changing room with Fats (Patrick McEleney), he said that he was right behind me and it looked like the ball sat up. It felt like it at the time because I could see the keeper going down early so I knew I just had to lift it a bit but it just seemed to skew off my foot and hit the bar.”

McGonigle, who praised team-mate James Akintunde for his inch perfect cross for his goal, believes not having the likes of Matty Smith and in particular Michael Duffy cost Derry from creating more opportunities.

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“James did brilliant for my goal. He beat two men and put a cross into a good area but when you are missing players like Mickey Duffy, I would say that’s probably three or four chances a game you are missing out on, but it also shows the strength and depth that we have at the minute and hopefully we can kick-on now,” he said.

“It was one of those games and I sort of expected that as it was the first game of the season, it’s going to be hectic. The game was a bit end-to-end and in the last five minutes I could have probably won it, the ball just sat up and I hit the bar but they probably could have won it as well. Overall I think you have to take the positives from the game.

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“The conditions were tough, it was very windy and you could see at the start of the second half we had sleet, hailstones and everything. We went behind twice but it shows great character that we have in the squad to come back both times.”