VIDEO: A flat white, a fresh haircut and a 15 minute hat-trick - Declan Glass' recipe for success at Derry City

RUAIDHRI Higgins described him as a 'street footballer' and gave him license to express himself on his Derry City debut and Declan Glass certainly didn't disappoint with a stunning 15 minute hat-trick to announce himself to the Brandywell fans.

By Simon Collins
Sunday, 31st July 2022, 3:53 pm

City fans were still salivating at the prospect of Mark Connolly making his debut following his deadline day signing from Dundee United when another arrival from Tannadice was unveiled by Higgins.

There's no doubt it's been a sensational transfer window for Derry - Higgins' third window of opportunity to put his stamp on this team - and the arrival of Glass has certainly tempered the manager's attacking options.

The talented 22 year-old Scotsman became an instant hit at Brandywell as he became the first player since Rory Patterson in 2012 to score a hat-trick on his Derry debut to help guide the Candy Stripes into the second round of the FAI Cup. Glass was a royal 'pane' in the side of the Leinster Senior League outfit who were so far out of their depth against a Derry team at their ruthless best.

Dundee United loanee Declan Glass lit up Brandywell with his first senior hat-trick in Derry City's big FAI Cup win over Oliver Bond Celtic. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

A 4a.m. ferry crossing from Scotland to complete his loan deal before the deadline wasn't the ideal preparation for his debut on Saturday afternoon but a 'flat white' and a 'long black' coffee on the morning of the match proved a recipe for success for the Dundee United man who lit up this first round tie.

"I only got to Derry about 4am yesterday morning (Friday)," he explained. "I got the late ferry from Scotland. So I had a few hours sleep yesterday and then went straight into training. Obviously I rested up, got a flat white in the afternoon and a long black this morning and it left me in not bad stead for this evening, so maybe I'll keep that routine up," he smiled.

There were 40 seconds on the clock when he made his first meaningful contribution, carving open the Dubliners' defence to set Ryan Graydon clean through on goal and while the winger finished with aplomb, it was ruled out for offside.

The gifted playmaker was heavily involved again when Derry hit the front on eight minutes as he slotted a lovely pass through the middle to find the run of James Akintunde who slotted confidently into the corner.

He got in on the scoring act himself with two goals in three first half minutes to shatter the Dublin minnows' FAI Cup dreams. The excellent Patrick McEleney chipped a neat pass into Glass' path on the right side of the six yard box and his first time strike on the volley with his right foot went into the far corner of the net.

When Sadou Diallo found his clever run in behind the Oliver Bond defence moments later, Glass picked his spot clinically with another first time finish, this time on his left foot.

Six minutes before the break, Brandon Kavanagh was barged in the back by Dean Brady inside the penalty area and referee Derek Tomney pointed to the spot. City skipper McEleney unselfishly handed the ball to Glass to complete his treble and he tucked away the spotkick with real confidence.

Considering he had just one training session with his new teammates, Saturday's display bodes well for the rest of the season.

The charismatic Scotsman, who has made 28 senior appearances for Dundee United, notching two goals and two assists, was relishing his first taste of action on Foyleside and believes he's at the perfect place to develop his game further. He's not getting carried away bearing in mind the standard of the opposition, however, it was a debut which will certainly live long in the memory.

"I've not made many better (debuts) than that to be fair," he beamed afterwards. "I think I've always been not bad on my debut but that one in particular will always be a great memory.

"That's what I look to do," he continued. "I was asked yesterday by a couple of people what type of player I am and hopefully what I said was what I tried to do today. I like to try and get people off their seats. I like to try and excite and create. A player like me will give the ball away. I will make mistakes but with the backing at this club I think this is the place to be for my development.

"And it was a brilliant touch by Patrick to give me the penalty and I'm very grateful to him for that. That's my first professional hat-trick. I think my last one was probably under-14s so when you take it like that, I'm obviously delighted."

Of course the acid test will be on Friday night at Oriel Park where there will be so many subplots as Higgins returns to his former stomping ground with several players who have close ties with the club.

Glass will go into that match brimming with confidence after his debut display. He claims he's settled in well to his new surroundings already but he's on the lookout for a decent barber ahead of the trip to Co. Louth on Friday and reckons a fresh new trim will give him an added spring in his step.

"They've been an incredibly welcoming bunch," he said of his new teammates. "I only came in yesterday and everybody was straight up to me asking how are you and all that. Just nice personal touches.

"The gaffer has been brilliant asking if I'm okay and stuff and the lads have been the same and have been nothing but helpful. I need a haircut though so I might need to ask them where's good," he laughed. "And I'm not sure how much I'm going to trust that opinion but I will go and ask them and then maybe you can ask me the same question (how he's settled in) after that.

"Hopefully I can keep making a big impact," he added. "I'm under no illusions, I understand the games are going to be tougher and the oppositions will be tougher and it's going to be more difficult. We might have to be more patient but it was a good test and I'm really looking forward to next week.

"I know the opposition we were against today was probably nothing like what the league will be like but it's still good to get that feeling of hitting the back of the net again and more importantly playing football. That's what every player wants to do and it's just great to be back on the pitch in front of fans and hopefully putting on a decent show for them."

After his impressive introduction to life in the League of Ireland the pressure is on to repeat his debut performance as Derry face into two fixtures against the league's top two.

"I understand that, that's football. I will try my best and I might be a bit lighter on my feet if I get my haircut," he joked.

For City boss Higgins, he hopes Glass' first half display is a 'sign' of what's to come.

"He was brilliant," said the Limavady man. "He got a wee bit tired in the second half but he showed his quality. Two great feet, great balance and glides around. He's a street footballer and the type of player I like working with.

"I think it's a sign of what's potentially to come. He knows there's areas of his game that he can improve as well but I think it was important we got him clear to play because I wanted him to get on the ball and express himself but also to give our supporters a chance to see what type of player he is and the quality he has as well."

Mission accomplished then. And in fairness, the evening couldn't have went much better for the City boss as Connolly marked his debut with a goal, Brian Maher kept a clean sheet, Jamie McGonigle got back on the goal trail, Michael Duffy made a welcome return from injury and Derry are in the hat for the next round of the cup!

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