ALL IRELAND RUGBY: Second placed Sunday’s Well cut City of Derry advantage

City of Derry's David Graham heads for the line as two Sundays Well players close
City of Derry's David Graham heads for the line as two Sundays Well players close
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CITY OF DERRY 8 SUNDAY’S WELL 11

A fourth successive league defeat for City of Derry has left their All Ireland League Division 2B title hopes in a precarious position after Sunday’s Well cut their advantage at the top to four points thanks to a well deserved 11-8 victory at Judges Road on Saturday.

The result will be a huge psychological boost for the Cork side who sit second with Highfield also making ground to move third, six points adrift of Derry but with a crucial game in hand. Yet with two games to go, the scenario is also remarkably simple for Terry McMaster’s team. Win the final two games with a bonus point and win the title.

Easier said than done though after a run of results with has hit morale and left confidence low. McMaster needs to get his side back to the free-flowing form of the first half of the season which is providing the cushion that Derry currently cling to but which has now all but evaporated.

one chink of light is that Highfield and Sunday’s Well have yet to meet each other meaning one will drop points but the Derry concentration now needs to be focused solely on a trip to Bective and the final game at home to Barnhall.

But they need to improve. And fast.

The visitors were in charge from early on but Derry still left a couple of tries out on the pitch after a first half which saw only Adam Bratton’s try separating the sides.

Sunday’s Well out-half Shane O’Riordan missed both a drop goal and penalty in the opening moments before a great Richard McCarter kick took Derry into the Well 22 for the first time on nine minutes. The visitors couldn’t clear and Derry secured a line-out from which Bratton secured possession and forced his way over on the back of a fantastic forwards’ drive.

Derry centre David Graham was also catching the eye and could have twice crossed the line following superb breaks although his inability to get the final pass out to winger Johnny Kennedy on his second burst forward stopped a certain try.

Derry’s cause wasn’t helped by injury either as both prop Sam Duffy and hooker David Ferguson both limped out of the game inside the opening half hour with John Burns going into hooker and Richard Baird coming off the bench in the reshuffle.

Graham finally looked to have the score his first half deserved on 34 minutes when he broke two tackles to barge his way over but the home celebrations were cut short when the touch judge ruled the ball had not been grounded. Another missed O’Riordan penalty brought the first half to a close with Derry still leading 5-0.

The loss of Cathal Cregan only nine minutes into the second half saw the scrum go uncontested but still the visitors looked the more likely to score.

the eventually got on the scoreboard through am O’Riordan penalty on 53 minutes and it was little more than they deserved.

A needless yellow card for Derry Richard Baird for a very late tackle gave them further confidence with O’Riordan slotting over the resulting penalty. They then added insult to injury on 64 minutes with centre Eoin Greary was the spare man on the outside to get in around the back of the Derry defence and score an unconverted try for an 11-5 lead.

back to 15 men, Derry came back at the Munster men and forced them back as the home side enjoyed their best spell of the game. They reduced the deficit through a Neil Burns penalty on 70 minutes but considering the scrums were uncontested , it was a penalty that looked heaven sent to try and secure seven points.

O’Riordan missed another penalty and there was also a late yellow card for flanker Cyprion Jouve but Sunday’s Well held on quite comfortably as handling errors stopped Derry building any real momentum.

The result could yet prove to be a pivotal one in the race for the automatic promotion spot but if McMaster can get his players back in the frame of mind they had before Christmas, the title is still theirs to win.

City of Derry: Rory Squires, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, David Hoston, Adam Bratton, Steven Dickey, John Burns, Stephen Corr, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Johnny Kennedy, Stuart Simpson, David Graham, Neil Brown, Simon Logue. (Replacements) Cathal Cregan, Chris Cooper, Richard Baird, Neil Burns, David Funston.

Sunday’s Well: Michael Moynihan, John Moynihan, Francis Moynihan, Owen Glynn, Steve Kelly, Kieran Stokes, Cyprion Jouve, James Murphy, Peter Arigho, Shane O’Riordan, Josh Neilson, Mark Chandler, Eoin Greary, Ross O’Mahoney, Greg Higgins. (Replacements) Neville O’Donoghue, John Barry, Ethan Ackland,Shane Desmond, Eoin Hurley.

Referee: Pay Haycock (IRFU).