The Finn Harps boss was suitably impressed by the Candy Stripes who clinched the derby spoils at Ballybofey on Saturday and having played every team once, Horgan is convinced Ruaidhri Higgins’ troops are the real deal this year.
Will Patching’s fifth goal of the season from a beautifully taken 88th minute free kick proved decisive in the 2-1 win at Finn Park, the result re-establishing a six points lead on the summit.
Higgins claimed afterwards that reigning champions, Rovers, remain the clear favourites but a first title since 1997 is on the cards for Derry according to Horgan who reckons City have all the attributes to go the distance.
“I think you can see tonight Shamrock Rovers aren’t going to win the league easily,” said the Galwegian, who is the league’s longest serving manager.
“You see not just the talent, it’s the power, the relentlessness of them. They’ve scored a lot of late goals as they did tonight. They’re strong physically as well as the football ability they have. Look, if anyone finishes above them they will have won the league,” he insisted.
Having said that, Horgan was frustrated to concede twice from set-pieces on Saturday after finally getting to grips with Derry in the second half.
“There’s no point in having moral victories, we’ve had them for too many years,” he said. “It’s just disappointing to get done by two set-pieces, albeit we scored ourselves from a set piece at the end.
“Patching was very, very good in the first half. In the second half I felt we dealt with him and he wasn’t as important in the game and then he came up with that freekick,” he lamented.
“Derry are a proper side. The first half they were very good on the ball and had a lot of little patterns of play and caused us a lot of bother, but we eventually got to grips with it and then they came up with a set-piece. That’s why they’re top of the table.
“They don’t care about not scoring a wonder goal from open play. They got two set pieces and got three points and up the road they go. That’s why they are top of the table and that’s why we are where we are.
“Maybe ‘their set pieces were better than ours’ is the way to summarise the game. There was nothing in it in the second half and a moment of class from Patching wins the game.”