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Rovers challenge holds no fears for Candystripes chief Higgins

Airtricity Premier Division


Ruaidhri Higgins. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ruaidhri Higgins. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ruaidhri Higgins. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Derry City will attempt to get one over Shamrock Rovers for the first time in 13 games when the teams meet at the Brandywell this evening.

The Candystripes have not managed to beat Rovers since a 2-0 win at Tallaght in August 2017, when Aaron McEneff and Barry McNamee earned Kenny Shiels’ side a memorable victory.

Since then, Rovers have ascended to champions and they have lorded it over Derry, winning nine and drawing three of the last 12 meetings.

Rovers top the current table and beat Slovan Bratislava in Champions League qualifying on Wednesday, only to bow out on aggregate over two legs.

It is a daunting hurdle for Ruaidhri Higgins and his players to overcome but, having played well in a 1-1 draw with Stephen Bradley’s side two months ago, the City boss believes his team can raise their game again.

“We have to look at the game in Tallaght and take confidence from it,” he insisted.

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“Rovers were in good form at that point and they are in good form now as well, it we have to take really good confidence from that.

“I thought some of our passages of play on the big pitch in Tallaght was really, really good. Some of the football we played was really good and it’s good for the players to be able to relate to that game and hopefully we’ll get more of the same come Friday night.

“They are the best team in the country and they are the champions.

“We know that on any given day, they are capable of putting teams away comfortably, but we just have to make sure it doesn’t happen to us. We’ll prepare accordingly and try and approach the game and why not be ambitious and try and win it?”

Despite a 1-0 defeat at St Patrick’s Athletic last week, Higgins believes that he will see a marker of how far his team has come in a short time when they face the champions tonight.

He added: “In all the games that we’ve played, there’s not one game where we’ve been completely dominated and we can take pleasure in that, but we also have to sense when there’s an opportunity there for us and to go and grasp it and take it.

"It’s learning for me and it’s learning for the players and we’ll get better together and we’ll improve.

“The team has developed over the last couple of months and we’ve climbed a few places in the table which is progression itself.

“You want to develop and get better as quickly as possible, but it’s a process and our players are improving drastically and the team is improving, so I’m delighted with how the team is evolving and growing and I think over time we’ll grow into a very good team and be a match for anyone.”

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