Shamrock Rovers midfielder Dylan Watts says the manner of Friday’s hard-fought win over Derry City explains why the Hoops have won back-to-back titles.
The champions struggled for large parts of the first hour and yet still managed to come away with the victory in Tallaght with sub Danny Mandroiu nabbing a winner.
Watts, who also came off the bench to make a big impact, respects the ability of Derry and feels they have the ability to make it a ‘long season’ for the Hoops but says that a below-par performance shouldn’t take away from the qualities his team showed.
“We managed to dig deep at times when it mattered,” says Watts. “If we have a poor first half we know that in the second half that we have the players to produce big moments.
“Danny came on and scored the winner so it just shows the importance of the bench.
“You build really good squads like this to be able to do this. Nobody likes to be on the bench but you have to make an impact when you’re on.”
Derry boss Ruaidhrí Higgins was bullish about his side’s trajectory in the aftermath of the game, asserting his belief they are on the way to becoming an ‘outstanding’ side. Watts was asked directly if the Candystripes were the strongest challenger they have faced since ascending to the top of the pile.
“Yes, I think so and you lads (media) want to see that. I’m not going to say that they are better or worse than other teams. All I’ll say is that from watching them on Friday and playing in The Brandywell, they are never beaten.
“They are a top side, no doubt about it, and it’s going to be a long season.”