Ruaidhri Higgins embraces defender Cameron McJannet at full time. Pics by Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile.
Ruaidhri Higgins admits he is disappointed not to have a game this week as he hoped to continue with the momentum that has taken Derry City back to the top of the Premier Division.
The City boss was ecstatic when Will Patching fired in a 93rd minute winning goal against St. Patrick's Athletic, but by the time it came to post-match interviews, he had both feet back on the ground insisting that while it has been a good start to the season, there is still a long, long way to go.
"If you want to be serious about doing anything you have to take big scalps and so far we've done that," he said. "However, loads of teams have had brilliant starts in leagues all over the world and then faded away. We just need to stay focused on the next game and pick up three points. I'll keep giving boring answers but if you do look too far ahead you get done. So you just want to keep that momentum and keep driving on."
Higgins was unsurprisingly full of praise for match winner Patching however, who he brought back from Dundalk, this time on a full term deal, in the close season. Patching is now on three goals for the season and is well on his way to matching last year's total of six for the Candystripes.
"He's an outstanding technician, a really brilliant technician,2 Higgins continued. "He's got so many attributes. You see how he moves as well. Two great feet, just graceful and an outstanding footballer. We worked really hard to be honest to try and keep him in the summer and it didn't happen. We then worked hard again to bring him here but it didn't take that much persuasion because of how much he enjoyed his loan spell here. We're delighted to have him and long may that continue, midfield players chipping in with goals is crucial.
"He's majestic, he's graceful and I love watching him," continued the City boss. "Even standing on the sideline I love seeing him on the ball, he makes things happen, he's brave. To be honest when I saw him lining that one up in injury time I fancied him because when you give him time and space in and around the box he hurts you."
Late goals are becoming something of the norm from Derry City and Higgins admits it is a good habit to have, especially in big games.
"It's hugely important," he agreed. "Nothing beats late goals and the noise in the place, again it reminded me of (Jamie) McGonigle's goal against Shamrock Rovers, the roof lifted off the place.
NEVER FORGOTTEN… Derry City fans shine lights in memory of Ryan McBride on the occasion of his fifth anniversary during the game against St. Patrick’s Athletic at the Brandywell on Friday night past. Pics by Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile
"We want this to be a really tough venue to come to and we're going on the right track. Considering who we don't have available to us, I think the points return is very good but we need to keep going.
"I'm actually a bit disappointed there's a break next week. I would have liked to keep the momentum going but the players deserve a few days off. We'll come in on Monday, refocus and try and get a good week next week.
"We had a lot of top players unavailable to us and it looks like that's going to be the case for a long enough term with Michael Duffy and Ciaron Harkin. The core of the team at the minute and going forward will be a lot of the players that were here last year and they deserve huge credit.
Danny Lafferty attempts to bring the ball under control during the first half of Friday's game.
"We have a really good group here. They're really together and we keep going to the end and score a lot of late goals and fair play to them. I'm very, very proud of them."
Friday's game was also notable for the tribute to Ryan McBride on the weekend of his fifth anniversary and the Derry City boss admitted that the former captain was on the players' minds going into the game.
"Leading into the game, Ryan was in the forefront of our thoughts," he said. "We wanted to see his values in our performance and I think we managed to achieve that by showing character and bravery right until the very last minute."
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