AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
If Derry City’s off-season could be summed up by a WWE entrance song it would be Shane McMahon’s “Here Comes The Money.”
Ruaidhrí Higgins has splashed the cash with a host of star names arriving at the Brandywell ahead of the 2022 campaign but while it’s clear Higgins has been given the strongest of backing to go and build a squad capable of competing at the very top, it’s clear the Derry City boss has only added players he feels will not only improve his side but will fit the DNA of Derry City Football Club.
Local heroes Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney, and Shane McEleney are not only top performers in their respective positions but they will of course help to build a stronger connection between the Brandywell faithful and the players out on the pitch representing them while Cameron Dummigan and Matty Smith would walk into most starting XI’s around the country.
The acquisition of a promising young goalkeeper in Brian Maher as opposed to going for someone maybe more tried and tested is an interesting approach from Higgins but he has made it clear he wants to build a strong Derry squad capable of competing over the next number of years not just for the season ahead.
In Jamie McGonigle, City have a ruthless finisher who should be set for a mammoth season given the quality of service in behind him while keeping captain Eoin Toal at the back could prove to be just as important as some of Derry’s new arrivals in the off-season.
A twenty-four-point deficit on Shamrock Rovers from 2021 means climbing straight to the top of the mountain in 2022 is a major ask but we should at the very least get a genuine title race between the two with Derry City my fancy to be best of the rest behind the Hoops this season.
BTS PREDICTION: 2nd
STAR PERFORMER: Michael Duffy (He’s been tearing it up in pre-season)
ONE TO WATCH: Eoin Toal (They’ll do well to keep the Armagh man for another full season)
For more build-up to the 2022 League of Ireland season, tune in to Between the Stripes LOI podcast’s 2022 Pre-Season Special here.