Irish Daily Star


Meet Old pal Deery backs Higgins to get Derry challengin­g Hoops supremacy with specialist

- ■■Paul O’HEHIR ■ ■Paul O’HEHIR

Derry fans were asking, ‘Who is this kid?’

“But I knew what Stephen was at. Ruaidhri never panicked.

“Give him the ball in tight spaces and he wouldn’t lose it.

“Those games in Europe, against Gothenburg, Gretna, PSG, they were made for Ruaidhri.

“We were a player driven team.

Stephen facilitate­d a really healthy environmen­t. We knew when to have a laugh and a joke, when to get serious.

Twice we went to the final day of the season with a chance of winning the league, losing on goal difference in 2006, an by a point to Cork in 2005.

“Who’d have thought then the club would still be waiting for another league title?

“They’re hard won.”

That’s why he is pleading for fans to be patient.

Being a Creggan boy, he’s heard the moans and groans, the fear that another year will slip by without Candystrip­e colours decorating the League of Ireland trophy.

Yet this is where the was back running on the pitch last week but didn’t feel right, so he’ll go to see a specialist in London next week. When Lee tells you he’s not right, he’s not right, as he’s a tough man.”


But playmaker Byrne could be on the comeback trail after so many false dawns following knee surgery in October and a calf issue in pre-season.

Bradley said: “We’ve had loyalty digs in.

As manager of an Institute side who he has remodelled in his own image, a more Machiavell­ian character would be subtly underminin­g his old team-mate, knowing his name will inevitably be in the frame if a vacancy were to arise in the Brandywell.

But that’s not his style.


He says: “I would genuinely love it for Ruaidhri if Derry did it this year.

“You could see the excitement that was generated when we won the FAI Cup a couple of years ago.

“That’s the impact the club can have on a city and a community.

“Ruaidhri knows that. He is conscious of what people.

“But my request is for fans to be patient.

“This is a great young manager. He has a great young team.

“But they have had terrible luck with injuries.

“Once they get everyone fit, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

“So be patient with them. “Back them.”

That support will be needed across the next four days.

First up, it is Shamrock Rovers tonight in the Brandywell.

Then, on Monday, it is St Pat’s — Cup holders joining the defending champions in their attempts to rattle City.

“It is the biggest weekend of the season so far,” says Deery.

In any case, he knows how hard management can be.

“It’s different to when we were players,” he says, bearing in mind he is still only 39.

“What I mean by that is that when we started out, we were told what to it means to do by a manager.

“Now the manager has to explain things.

“You must have principles, yes. “But you have to be able to relate to players in a way the managers of the 1990s would not have needed to.

“In a sense, that is one of the reasons why Stephen (Kenny) did so well in Derry.

“He was ahead of his time in terms of his thinking.

“He was a communicat­or.

“His knowledge of the game was good.

“We all learned from him.” And Higgins’ education continued as a player and then coach under Kenny at Dundalk.

Deery said: “Ruaidhri is his own man but Kenny would have been an influentia­l figure, no doubt about it.

“He has done a great job.”

But the next four days and two games have the potential to shape his Brandywell legacy. “Massive games,” Deery said. No one doubts it. good news on Jack Byrne’s scans. He had some treatment on Wednesday and did some running yesterday. Hopefully all going well he’ll be back on the pitch next week in terms of back running and ramping it up. “Hopefully, in the next week or two we can push him back


in with the group. Aaron McEneff is similar, good news on his scans, he’s nearly there and hopefully in the next two weeks he’ll be back around the squad.”

Speaking to club media, Bradley said: “Derry are a good side.

“It’s always a difficult game but I think we’re in a good place. It has the makings of a good game.”


(7.45pm unless stated)

Shelbourne Derry City Bohemians Shamrock R. St Patrick’s Sligo Rovers Waterford Galway Utd Drogheda Utd Dundalk

P W D L F 10 6 3 1 14 10 4 4 2 16 10 5 1 4 12 9 4 3 2 14 10 4 2 4 10 9 3 3 3 11 10 3 3 4 11 9 3 2 4 5 9 1 5 3 9 10 0 4 6 3 brilliant

A 8 10 12 9 9 10 11 6 14 16

Pts 21 16 16 15 14 12 12 11 8 4

P W D L F APts Cork City 10 6 4 0 13 2 22 Finn Harps 10 5 3 2 12 7 18 UCD 10 4 3 3 12 9 15 Wexford 9 4 3 2 18 17 15 Bray Wand. 10 3 3 4 18 17 12 Treaty United 9 3 3 3 9 8 12 Athlone Town 10 3 3 4 12 16 12 Kerry 10 1 6 3 9 10 9 Cobh Ramb. 9 1 4 4 12 19 7 Longford Tn 9 0 4 5 10 20 4


ASSIST king Brandon Kavanagh claims he gets a bigger thrill setting up goals than scoring them.

And the playmaker is out to put more balls on a plate for his St Pat’s team-mates in their revenge mission against Waterford tonight.

Kavanagh has chipped in with five assists in 10 league games this season, including two in the Saints’ recent comefrom-behind win over Shamrock Rovers.

The 23-year-old is tied with Bohemians’ Dayle Rooney at the top of the Premier Division’s assist charts, with Derry City’s Paul McMullan next best on four.

Shelbourne’s Sean Boyd and Tyreke Wilson, Graham Burke and Darragh Burns of Shamrock Rovers and Derry City duo Michael Duffy and Will Patching are tied on three.

Kavanagh, who had a year to run on his Derry deal when he joined St Pat’s over the winter, said: “I’ve always preferred an assist over a goal, unless it’s a 30-yard screamer!


“It’s nice to put a ball on a plate for someone to go slot it in. That’s my game, to go and score or make as many goals as I can and hopefully I can keep doing that.”

Asked what was so satisfying about setting up someone else, Kavanagh said: “Maybe it’s seeing a pass that nobody else can see, or that very few people can see.

“It’s being in those positions when you’re going through on goal and you can see ‘that’ pass. It just looks great. But I don’t just do it, it’s the right thing to do.

“When you look at my assists this season, they have all come from sliding people through or a couple of set pieces. They are things that I work on.”


Watching the Champions League quarter-finals this week, Kavanagh was immediatel­y drawn to the playmakers rather than finishers.

And while holders Manchester City were dumped out by Real Madrid, Kavanagh loves the intricate play of the Premier League side.

“Phil Foden is absolutely amazing,” he said. “The little things he can do, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, there’s not many others in the world who can do that.

“You see some of their passes and it just amazes you, compared to Haaland tapping them in at the back stick.

“I like looking at those types of players who can just produce magic. Wes Hoolahan would have been someone I looked up to years ago.

“There are players around the league like Jack Byrne, Graham Burke and Will Patching who play in those positions and play like that.

“The likes of Messi, when you watch them when you’re younger, you try and replicate it out on the road and you get better at it when you do it.

“I’ve grown up to see that pass and play that pass. I’ve been working at it so long that maybe they are the only passes I see now, if that makes sense.

“I try to take little bits out of everyone’s game to make myself better.”

St Pat’s lost 3-1 away to Waterford earlier in the season but are unbeaten in four games since returning from their St Patrick’s Day trip to America.

Kavanagh feels the team bonding in Minnesota was invaluable and added: “We needed that break, it came at the right time.

“It brought us together and helped us understand each other a bit more. We’ve come back a better team and that has shown in the results.”

 ?? ?? FRIENDLY RIVAL: Institute boss Kevin Deery
FRIENDLY RIVAL: Institute boss Kevin Deery
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 ?? ?? TALENTED: Kavanagh while at Derry City
TALENTED: Kavanagh while at Derry City
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