Will Fitzgerald hoping Derry City can banish Longford Town nightmare

DERRY CITY’s shock 2-0 opening day defeat to league newcomers Longford Town last March might seem like a distant memory for most but Will Fitzgerald admits that nightmare start to the campaign continues to haunt the Brandywell club.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 10:04 am
Updated Saturday, 31st July 2021, 10:08 am
Derry City players drop to the floor after a hugely disappointing performance on the opening night of the season in Longford.

It set the tone for a disastrous six game winless run and while Ruaidhri Higgins wasn’t in charge at the time, Fitzgerald revealed the City boss hasn’t let the team forget about it.

And with the boost of new arrivals in the squad, Fitzgerald insists the team are desperate to right the wrongs from that defeat at Bishopsgate as they return with confidence.

“It’s easy to say it’s forgotten about,” said the Limerick native. “At this stage of the season it seems like such a long time ago but we haven’t forgotten about it and Ruaidhri has brought it up quite a few times these last few days telling us that we shouldn’t forget about it. I think we are all quite eager to put that result right.

Derry winger Will Fitzgerald pictured in action in the opening day 2-0 loss against Longford Town at Bishopsgate last March.

“Look, we’ll be targeting the three points, as we will be the following week when Drogheda come to town. We’re hoping for six points from six and continue to move up the table.

“Obviously it was great to get into that next round of the FAI Cup but our full focus is on picking up points each week and we’re still targeting that top four position because we’re talking about Derry City Football Club which deserves to be at the top end of the table competing with the big teams.

“Our big focus is still on picking up three points week in, week out and continuing to climb the table. We don’t want to fall too far adrift of the teams above us. We know the players we’ve brought in over the last few weeks will only help us push on.”

The experienced wide man knows it won’t be an easy task against the Midlanders who are desperate for points in their bid for Premier Division survival. In fact Derry have yet to beat Daire Doyle’s troops this season, needing a late James Akintunde strike to clinch a point at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium back in May.

The league’s basement club are on a decent run of late having held both Bohemians and Drogheda to 1-1 draws before a comprehensive 5-0 win over Leinster Senior League outfit Bangor GG FC last weekend.

They’ve also strengthened in the transfer window with Darragh Nugent and Dean Williams joining on loan from Shamrock Rovers and Fitzgerald is braced for another tough encounter.

“It will be a tough one,” he predicted. “They have strengthened quite well but they got off to a great start to the season at our expense and a couple of other teams’ expense but they kind of tailed off for a bit.

“They’re still a good side and are very difficult to break down. It’s always going to be a difficult game at Bishopsgate. It’s never going to be easy but we’ll knuckle down on the training ground and prepare for it and we’re all looking forward to it.”

The versatile former Waterford winger found himself as part of a three-pronged attack and playing in a more central attacking role against Drogheda in the cup last weekend. He’s happy to play wherever needed and insists he’s thoroughly enjoying his football and loving life in the maiden city.

“The whole team is looking forward to the next few weeks. We’ve been experimenting with different formations. Myself, naturally I’m a winger but if the manager asks me to play further up top with the likes of Junior (Ogedi-Uzokwe) and James (Akintunde) to add that extra attacking dynamic then I’ll do that with a smile on my face.

“I’m just really enjoying my football with Derry at the moment. I really enjoy it up here, the people and the whole city. It’s a beautiful city and I think the football club deserves the best.

“I know Ruaidhri has plans in place in order to make it the best so as long as I can continue to be a part of that and continue to link up with the rest of my teammates. And with Bastien coming in I’m going to continue enjoying my football and hopefully impress more of the fans coming through the gates in the next few weeks.”