Shamrock Rovers success a blueprint for Derry City ambition: says Danny Lafferty

DANNY LAFFERTY can see parallels in how Shamrock Rovers grew to become the dominant force in the League of Ireland and Derry City’s quickfire transition from mid-table mediocrity to title contenders under Ruaidhri Higgins.

By Simon Collins
Friday, 13th May 2022, 3:46 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 3:49 pm

The former Burnley and Sheffield United left-back returned from England to join Rovers in August 2019 with the club on an upward trajectory under Stephen Bradley who was appointed manager three years previously. Winning the FAI Cup in 2019 and the club’s 18th league title in 2020, the Hoops went through the truncated season unbeaten and it marked the beginning of Rovers’ return to the top of Irish football.

Over the past five years of Bradley’s reign, Lafferty believes the Tallaght club have now established a ‘real identity’ and have become ‘relentless’ in their pursuit of silverware.

Having been part of that success, Lafferty knows what it takes to sustain a challenge and he believes his hometown club Derry City are on the right track under Higgins.

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Danny Lafferty is beaten to the ball by St Pat’s keeper Joe Anang during Monday’s scoreless draw at Brandywell.

“Their dominance over the last 12 months or so has been a couple of years in the making, continually adding strength to their squad and they have a real identity about the club,” said the former Northern Ireland international.

“They have some top individual players and they are relentless in how they go about things. You’ve seen recently that they keep picking up wins and ticking them off as they go. We know it’s a tough place to go but we have loads of individual and collective quality in our group to go there and definitely get three points.

“We are under no illusions that it will be a tough task for us but we’re going there with loads of belief.”

That’s a mindset instilled by Higgins who guided Derry to the top of the table in some style before they were toppled by Rovers on Monday but Lafferty believes he can see similarities with how the Brandywell club are developing.

“Yeah, in a sense probably. It’s obvious to see here what has been going on over this season and since Ruaidhri came in last year. Things have continually been getting better and improving and the performances are showing that and so is our start to the season.

“They (Rovers) have set the benchmark and teams have had to strengthen to keep up. We have managed to do that so far this season and I’m sure we will have a game-plan going there on Friday to ask a lot of questions of them and see where it takes us.”

Surrendering pole position in the league table to the Dubliners just days before travelling to their home patch ‘doesn’t change anything’ according to Lafferty who claims Derry will travel intent on securing a second win of the season over Bradley’s in-form troops.

“No, it doesn’t change anything. We’ve had a good record in Dublin this year and we’re going there on Friday to win the game, no doubt about it. We will not be doing what Pats did to us, sitting in and trying to play for a point. We know it will be a very tough task but the squad and staff have full belief that we can do that and go there and match them.

“Yeah they have a bit of momentum in their favour. We had two frustrating outcomes to our last two games. They are in good form and if they get a lot of points ahead they will be hard to claw back. They seem to be on a roll now.

“We are fully aware of that, that we don’t want to lose the game but that is not in our mindset, to sit in and try to get a point. If we end up with a point, so be it but our mindset is to go down and get three points.”

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