ANOTHER YEAR IN… Eoin Toal has been at the club since 2017. Photo: Stephen McCarthy (Sportsfile)
One thing that Eoin Toal is desperate to improve upon this season is his goal return.
While the Derry City captain’s main concern is keeping goals out at one end, he has been on the receiving end of plenty of stick from last year, when it seemed his defensive partners were scoring every other week. Ronan Boyce ended the season with seven goals, Danny Lafferty with six and Cameron McJannett with five, while Toal himself chipped in with just one. Derry City may well have the most dangerous defence in all the land, and Toal wants to be sure his numbers improve in 2022.
“Yeah, I only got one, but I thought I got it very unlucky a few times,” he admitted. “That’s something I’ve always needed to improve in my game. I haven’t scored as much goals, this is me being critical, as I would like. Look I’ve been trying to improve everyday doing that, but we always try and help the team as much as we can.”
“I think when Ronan (Boyce) came in he went on a wee run and in his first season he scored six or seven goals from right back which is brilliant. It was a brilliant return and as you say like everyone can chip in, but the most important thing is that we stay focused for the next couple of weeks getting ready to play Dundalk in the first game of the season.”
Toal is now the longest serving player at the club having joined midway through the 2017 season. In that time he has helped the Candystripes qualify for European competition three times as well as win the 2018 League Cup. Yet, there is a different feel about the club this time around, with the new arrivals undoubtedly raising the level of expectation.
“Yeah definitely, there’s not going to be any denying it with the quality we’ve brought in,” Toal acknowledged. “We have more experienced players in the team, that have gone and won things. They’ll be able to bring the team forward as much as I can with their experience. Everyone has been getting on really, really well, they really gelled really quickly and we’re looking forward to the start of the season.”
“As a team though we are really only focusing on the first game of the season as cliché as that sounds. It is such a hard start with Dundalk and for Shamrock Rovers, so it is important that we do get off to a good start and were hoping for the best start that we can.”
There was no denying the impact that Ruaidhri Higgins had when he came on board as manager last April, with City recovering from a horrid start to the season to qualify for Europe on the final day. It was an incredible turnaround.
OPPONENTS, NOW TEAM MATES… Toal in action against Michael Duffy last season. Photo: Ben McShane (Sportsfile)
“Yeah definitely, look we got off to a bad start and then I thought we were getting better as a few games went on, then obviously when Ruaidhri came in we got our first win and it really kicked on from there,” Toal reflected.
“We went on and we got into Europe, and people probably thought it was impossible talk but then we done it, and now we’ve obviously strengthened the group ow so were looking forward to the start.”
“I think Ruaidhri is a tremendous person first and foremost, and he really engages with the players. I can only tell you that from my experience but he’s been brilliant with me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of working with him. He’s definitely is a man who we have a lot of time for. He’s been around and he’s played here himself and he’s been brilliant.”
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