Higgins pleased with Derry progress but insists there's more to come

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins at a training session ahead of this weekend's FAI Cup final Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus Crudden

DERRY City's Ruaidhrí Higgins concedes he regrets a few things he has done in his first full season as manager.

The 40-year-old, who will lead the Candystripes out at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday when they face Shelbourne in the FAI Cup Final, does feel the club is going in the right direction, but their hard work must continue.

"Those people who say they don't have any regrets, I don't believe it," he stated.

"Of course I have regrets. It's my first full year as a manager and I'm going to make mistakes. I've made mistakes and I'll learn from them. That's what it's all about."

The Limavady man also praised chairman Philip O'Doherty and the club's board for taking the gamble on appointing him as City boss, after Declan Devine's departure in 2021.

"Philip and the board took a chance on me as an unproven manager and I think we've seen good progression," he added.

"Last season I think went somewhat under the radar but the players were absolutely sensational. We finished in Europe from being bottom of the league and we've finished in second this year. So second place and a cup final is a major leap forward."

With a big travelling support making the trip south on Sunday, Higgins is trying to get his players to just focus on the actual game itself.

“You try to normalise it as much as possible. Obviously it's not normal," he admitted. “It's a showpiece event. But we have to prepare as normal as possible, do our homework on the opposition and go down there next Sunday and give it a real go.

"Hopefully the last person out of Derry will be turning the lights off."

After finishing their league campaign off with a disappointing home loss to Dundalk, Higgins was still upbeat as he had guided the Candystripes into second spot in the Premier Division, the first man to do that since Stephen Kenny in 2006.

“It's 16 years since we finished second so if you had offered me second place and a cup final at the start of the season, absolutely I would have snapped your hand off,” he admitted.

"Although we're a bit disappointed with the last few weeks, now that the league campaign is over, you've got to look at it over the whole piece and it's been fantastic progression and we just need to kick on going into the biggest week of the calendar year now with something to get really excited about.”