City of Derry have given themselves a fighting chance of a play-off spot with victory over Tullamore last Saturday.
Frozen fingers and numb toes could not take away the smiles of the City of Derry players last Saturday, as they proved to others, and more importantly themselves, that they can match the best teams in Division 2C.
The defeat to Bangor just two weeks ago was little short of a disaster for Derry, who, all of a sudden, were looking at a relegation scrap rather than a potential play-off. But fast forward seven days, the picture was turned on its head completely thanks to an inspiring victory over Tullamore, who went into the game in third place in the table.
Four tries, five points and a very fine performance changes the scope of the division once again, and victory over Clonmel this week would really put Derry right back in the mix for a play-off spot at the more promising end of the division. That 80 minutes against Tullamore could well be the turning point everyone at Judges Road was waiting for.
“The all-round performance, especially in those conditions, was superb,” Richard McCarter said. “Playing with the wind in the first half you nearly put pressure on yourselves to build a lead, but we were composed and that’s what I loved about the performance from the first to last minute.
“We have been waiting for that performance for a while and that has while it has been so frustrating for me, because I work with these guys week in and week out and I know how good they can be. The ceiling is so high for them in terms of potential and I’m just so happy that today we were able to show how good we can be. This is a stepping stone, we can be better and we have to now back it up.”
Derry were beaten by Tullamore when the sides last met in November, but despite their loftier position in the table, Tullamore never look like damaging Derry on this occasion, with the hosts managing the game superbly to deny their opponents momentum of any kind.
“We had a bit of an advantage at half time and to keep them out in the second half, from there, to not score at all, was a brilliant effort,” McCarter agreed.
“Even with 15 or 20 minutes to go I didn’t really feel under threat that they were going to come back and score three tries against us. I thought we have lacked leaders at certain times this year, but we didn’t here; Richie Baird, Corrsy, Big Hugh in the front row and Loguie and a lot of those backs put their hands up, the two centres did a lot of hard running and tackling so it’s hard to pick out any one player.”
McCarter and Head Coach Paul O’Kane are now hoping that the confidence and belief gained from the victory over Tullamore can give them a foundation for the remainder of the season, five games which will decide Derry’s destiny for good or bad. One thing for certain is that Derry’s record away from home needs to improve. One win from six away games this season, a win against Bangor on November 30, is not ideal for a team hoping to make the play-offs, and McCarter agrees that consistency is key if they are to climb the table in the coming weeks.
“Loads of encouragement and loads of confidence but we have to back it up next week,” he said. “It’s no use being delighted with our performance this week and then going down to Clonmel and getting stuffed. We have to bring that attitude, bring that concentrating for another 80 minutes and try and get a couple of back to back victories which we haven’t managed this year.”
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