'We're coming for the league title next!' declares Derry City chairman Philip O'Doherty

DERRY CITY Chairman Mr Philip O'Doherty has declared his intention to open the war chest and back Ruaidhri Higgins in the Brandywell club's pursuit of the league title.
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The billionaire businessman has never been coy about his desire to invest in the success of his hometown club and after watching Derry bridge a 10 year gap by lifting their sixth FAI Cup trophy on Sunday, Mr O'Doherty wants to strike while the iron's hot.

He insists Derry 'are coming for the league title' and as part of an ambitious three-year plan, the chairman admits he's fully prepared to 'put the finances together' to achieve sustained success and 'emulate' reigning champions Shamrock Rovers.

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"The cup is fabulous and we're a cup city but we need to win the league," said Mr O'Doherty. "That's the golden prize really.

"We're coming for the league next year. That's the plan. I think we need to target winning the league."

It may be regarded by their Dublin rivals as a bullish statement but Mr O'Doherty claims he shouldn't be the chairman of the club if he doesn't set his sights high.

"People might think we're arrogant saying we're coming for the league but we have to be ambitious and we have to say to the fans that this is what we want as Board of Directors and in terms of the manager and his backroom staff.

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"We have to be ambitious as a city but we certainly have to be ambitious for what we want this club to be. So saying it out publicly could be the right thing, it could be the wrong thing but I think it's the truth."

Derry City chairman Mr Philip O'DohertyDerry City chairman Mr Philip O'Doherty
Derry City chairman Mr Philip O'Doherty

Derry have won the league title just twice since entering the League of Ireland back in 1985 (1989 and 1997) and Mr O'Doherty believes the club should be striving for sustained success.

Having watched Rovers and Dundalk reach the Group Stages of European competition in recent years, Mr O'Doherty also wants to enhance the image of Derry by going on an extended run on the continent.

"Shamrock Rovers are a fabulous team but we want to try and emulate Shamrock Rovers and be up with them. Dundalk will be doing the same and St Patrick's Athletic and I think it makes for a fabulous league next year.

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"It's probably not healthy for the league that Shamrock Rovers have won it three times in a row and congratulations to them but we want to be up there winning the league regularly as well. We've never won it regularly. We've won it on a few occasions.

"As regards to where we want Derry City to be, we certainly want to win the league in the next three years. It's difficult to say we want to win it next year. That could be the difference between getting a player or not getting a player. Shamrock Rovers have won a lot of prizemoney in Europe but Derry City want to be up there too.

"If we're not as ambitious as that then I shouldn't be the chairman, I really shouldn't be but I am! I think it's my job as a business man in the city to support the city and Derry City is the obvious way to do it.

"So we need to develop a five year plan where we want to be and a lot of that will be around getting further in European competitions. Ruaidhri and I both want that so how do we do it?

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"So we're basically doing a bit of brainstorming. Ruaidhri and 'Rennie' will come up with a plan. I just have to put the finances together for it."

The Chairman, who sold his E&I Engineering business to US giant Vertiv last year, describes his relationship with Derry City FC as a 'vocation' and admits he's in it for the long haul.

"It's a bit of a vocation for me," he said. "I want the best for the city and want the best for the football team. I certainly want the best for the fans and the kids. I'm really hoping for success. I want the name of the city out there by qualifying for European competitions over the next three to five years.

"I have no intention of going anywhere by the way. I'm very happy with it. Look, you have to spend your money on something," he smiled.