Ruaidhri Higgins: 'Although it's not the result we wanted, we have to take the positives from it'

by Deniese O'Flaherty

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins had mixed emotions on Friday evening as his side drew 1-1 against Longford Town.

Derry were the better side and had the bulk of the chances but found themselves 1-0 down on the 74th minute. James Akintunde rescued a point for the Candystripes in the final minute of stoppage time.

Higgins said: “An equaliser that we thoroughly deserved. Over the course of the game we deserved to win; in terms of possession, in terms of chances created so we have to take real positives from that. Obviously a sloppy goal from our end but in the overall picture of the game I felt we were actually very good on the evening.”

The Candystripes made the Town keeper Mick Kelly work throughout the game, forcing him into making a number of excellent saves. Higgins said: “I think we created chances from set plays, we created chances from open play. I don’t think the players got what they deserved tonight. I thought in terms of character shown, going right to the end. It’s a real strong point in this group.”

Longford Town manager Daire Doyle alluded to the fact it was very much a different Derry side on Friday evening, than the one Town faced in the opening game of the season. Higgins was modest about the effect he has had on his players since he came in as manager.

He said: “The players have been absolutely brilliant since I walked in the door. Myself, staff, players included, would’ve been absolutely devastated walking out of here tonight with nothing.

"Although it’s not the result we wanted, we have to take the positives from it.”

Higgins was a popular player at the club and as a local he was delighted to be given the opportunity to manage the club. It does bring with it, its own expectations: “When you are from the area, you go to the shop, you hear about it, my next door neighbour is a season ticket holder.

"This is a really passionate football town and it’s amazing to have the privilege to manage the club and to try and drive it forward. We are in the early days. Hopefully as the season progresses we’ll improve and kick on.”

Many people have helped the former Republic of Ireland Opposition Analyst on his journey from player to manager. One person he singles out for a special mention is former Derry City and Longford Town manager, and current Republic of Ireland boss, Stephen Kenny. He said: “An amazing man. Someone I really look up to, someone who I have massive respect for and has had a huge bearing on my life, never mind my career.

"He shaped my career. I’m very grateful to him and I’m sure going forward we’ll stay really good friends.”

The Derry native admitted he will no doubt take bits from the various managers he played under but he is definitely going to be his own man: “Of course you try and take wee bits from all the good managers you’ve worked under but I’ll try and be my own person as well and I’ll have my own ways in certain aspects.”

It’s early days but Higgins is enjoying being back at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, and this time in the home dug-out: He said: “It’s brilliant. The players have made it really enjoyable for me from day one. They’ve given me absolutely everything so as a manager and that’s all you can ask for.”