BEVAN LYNCH expects his troops to cope with the absence of influential scrum-half, Andrew Semple, much better than they did last weekend when they lock horns with Old Crescent at Judges Road tomorrow in the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League. (Kick-off 2.30 p.m.)
SIMON COLLINS reports
City of Derry suffered a crushing 32-7 defeat to joint AIL Division 2A leaders, Corinthians in Galway last weekend but it was the 10 minute spell which ensued following the sin-binning of Semple which ultimately put the game out of their reach.
The Galwegians went on to score three converted tries in those frantic 10 minutes before the half-time interval and Derry never really recovered, despite a spirited effort in the second half.
Although recognising his team’s collapse during that period was largely down to poor organisation and the absence of Semple, Lynch believes his side are well enough equipped to cope without the former Foyle College half-back against the Limerick men tomorrow afternoon.
Both Semple and experienced forward, Bob McKillop, will miss tomorrow’s clash against a seemingly rejuvenated Old Crescent through illness but Lynch expects everyone else to raise their games and secure their second home win of the AIL campaign.
The Kiwi has several options to consider but Simon Logue is expected to replace Semple at scrum-half having occupied the role against Corinthians last weekend.
“We have Andrew Semple and Bob McKillop out through illness so, unfortunately, those two experienced players won’t be available this weekend but apart from that everyone else is ready to go,” confirmed Lynch.
“We certainly don’t want to be losing guys like those two, they have a massive amount of experience but we’re fortunate in that we have young guys that can come in and fill the gap so we’ll just put our faith in them.
“We didn’t play well against Corinthians and we made some pretty simple defensive mistakes which led to scores so we certainly have to perform better if we expect to beat teams like Old Crescent, that’s for sure.
“It was just a 10 minute period where we had a few lapses in concentration which cost us 29 points so that left us with a bit too much to try and catch up.
“Obviously Andrew Semple is a key man, he was the guy that got sin-binned on Saturday and it really unfolded for 10 minutes after that. So we’re just hoping we can react a bit better without ‘Semps’ this week but it’ll be a big test for the boys.”
Tough Battle Expected
Old Crescent occupy fourth spot in the Division 2A table following a hard-fought derby victory over Midleton last weekend after an opening round draw with Old Wesley, and while Lynch expects a tough battle, he wants his players to return to form and deploy an open, expansive game against the Shannonsiders.
“They’re a grafting team, they grind out their wins and they’re pretty obstructive at the breakdown so we’ll have to work really hard to get some pace on the ball and play the way we like to play, which is down the wide channels.
“We’ve just got to be a bit more accurate and we feel we’ve addressed some of the organisational things that went wrong last Saturday and, hopefully, we have a new half-back in there.”
Having opened their AIL campaign with a home win against Terenure, Lynch stressed the importance of maintaining their winning run at Judges Road and he expects a positive reaction in front of the home support.
“We’re going to have to be at the top of our game to keep the home record going well.
“It’s important that we win our home games where we know the environment.
“I think we’re pretty spoilt at home, we’ve got a great track out there and it suits our style of play.
“When we travelled to Corinthians the pitch was a bit lumpy and some of our boys are probably a bit spoilt with the facilities that we have at home.
“It’s good to be at home and we haven’t lost a huge amount of games at Judges Road in the last couple of years, so we’re keen to continue that home form,” concluded the Derry coach.