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19 May 2022

'We have the mentality to win this!' - Derry boss Ruaidhri Higgins

City boss Ruaidhri Higgins looks ahead to the new season as Derry prepare to travel to Dundalk for their opening fixture

'We have the mentality to win this!' - Derry boss Ruaidhri Higgins

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins.

Dundalk v Derry City - Oriel Park - Friday night 7.30pm

Ruaidhri Higgins believes his players have developed the right mentality to go to places like Oriel Park and win ahead of the opening game of the 2022 League of Ireland season.

The Candystripes begin the new campaign with games against Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers in the space of 11 days, giving the new-look squad of players the most difficult start imaginable.

City won at Dundalk on the final day of last season and are looking for their third successive victory over the Lilywhites, but Higgins knows that his team face a huge challenge against his former club.

“It’s as tough as they come,” Higgins agreed. “People say the bookies are never far wrong and if we’re going by the bookies then they’re considerably strong favourites. We have to go there and try and put in a performance and do as we always do and try and pick up three points.

“You have to be ambitious, you have to go to these places and try and win. That’s the mentality that we’ve tried to create. We have gone to difficult venues and won; we went to Sligo and won, we went to Bohemians and won, we went to Finn Park and won.

"We don’t fear anyone and we don’t have an inferiority complex for anyone.”

There could be up to four former Dundalk players in Derry City’s starting eleven tomorrow night, and that is sure to add plenty of spice to a fixture that always generates excitement for both sets of supporters. With talk of Storm Dudley on the way also, Higgins says his players have to be ready for everything.

“It’s a bit of a coincidence that the magic machine pulled both of us out on the same day,” he laughed.

“Last season is gone, it’s completely gone and it’s a new season. We won for the first time there in a long time, but the challenge is to go there and try and win again.

"We will go there and try and win, there’s no doubt about that. It depends on the weather – there’s talk of the weather being bad but whatever the conditions are we’ll have to be adaptable and try to put in a performance and pick up the three points.”

‘A team full of winners’

Dundalk may have fallen short in all competitions last season, but Higgins fully expects them to hit back in 2022, and pointed to the sheer number of former champions in their squad as proof that they will challenge again.

“We’re going to a really difficult venue against a good side who actually, when you look at it and go through their squad; Peter Cherrie, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, John Mountney, Robbie Benson, Pat Hoban, Daniel Kelly – these boys have all won leagues, at least one and some have won four or five,” he stated. “A good percentage of their squad have won leagues so Dundalk for me, without a shadow of a doubt will be up there at the end of the season with that experience.”

Patrick McEleney who rejoined the Candystripes from Dundalk FC.

It promises to be a big night for the likes of former Dundalk players Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney, Cameron Dummigan and Will Patching, but Higgins is confident that the quartet will handle the challenge well.

“All the lads are professional, particularly Michael and Patrick who were at Dundalk for a long time and won a lot,” he said.

“They have done great, but they are all Derry players now, Cameron Dummigan and Will Patching as well as Patrick and Michael. Their motivation is to have as much success at Derry as they have had at Dundalk.

“We have a lot of hard work done and the players and the staff have been great and we’re looking forward to getting going now.”

Derry City will be without defender Ronan Boyce and midfielder Evan McLaughlin, while forward Matty Smith is rated at 50/50 to make tomorrow night’s game.

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