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Wednesday 1 October 2014

No question of taking Drogheda lightly says the reborn Higgins

Published 06/08/2014 | 05:20

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Graham Kelly, Bray Wanderers, in action against Ruaidhri Higgins, Dundalk. Airtricity League Premier Division, Bray Wanderers v Dundalk. Carlisle Grounds, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

James Rogers

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WHILE memories of Dundalk's 4-1 hammering away to neighbours Drogheda United on the opening day of the season may have long since healed, Ruaidhrí Higgins returns to United Park on Friday night as a man reborn.

Signed with an impressive reputation by Stephen Kenny at the start of the season, Higgins (pictured right) suffered more than most as a result of that shock result five months ago.

Having started the game in midfield, he was withdrawn just before the hour mark and did not start another match until the Setanta Cup semi-final second leg victory over Shamrock Rovers on April 15th.

A combination of the side's form and the emergence of Chris Shields as the side's midfield anchor has meant that the former Derry City man has had to be patient this season.

His undoubted talent has come more to the fore in recent months, though, with a man of the match performance in the 5-1 win over Bray Wanderers outlining the contribution he can make to the side.

An experienced campaigner, Higgins is becoming an increasingly important asset for Dundalk heading into the business end of the campaign, but he insists he is happy to contribute in any way he can to

a season that is brimming with potential at present.

'Everybody has played their part this year and there has been a good contribution all round,' he said.

'I've had a bit more game time recently and I'm enjoying that, but there has been a massive contribution from everyone, not just the 11 who have played the majority of games recently. Long may that continue and hopefully together we can finish the season strong.

'Things are going very well for the club at the minute and long may it continue. We need a big final push now for the last series of games. There's a long, long way to go, but hopefully it can be a special year for everybody,' he said.

With form going out the window in a derby, Higgins is well aware that Drogheda will be fired up for Friday night's game, having been boosted by the arrival of Damien Richardson as manager.

'You could see his influence in their result the other night when they got four against UCD. They have good players, though. [Gavan] Holohan is a good player, Gavin Brennan is a good player and they have plenty of players that can hurt you like Gary O'Neill and Declan O'Brien, who is a goalscorer.

'We'll not be taking them lightly by any stretch, but we need to focus on us and if we perform to the best of our ability I think we can win the match.'

Having played the last half-hour of Dundalk's victory in Cork on Friday night, Higgins also shone in Monday's 5-0 EA Sports Cup semi-final win over Wexford Youths.

A five-time winner of the competition, he insists 'it would be lovely' to get his hands on the silverware once again this season.

'Every competition we play in we want to win it, and this is no different,' said the 29-year-old.

'It has been brilliant for the younger lads especially, winning away to Bray, away to Derry in The Brandywell and home to Wexford Youths. I think Stephen made 11 changes for every game and that just shows the strength in depth here and hopefully now we can go one better and win it,' he said.

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