Battle-worn Derry slump to AIL defeat

City of Derry full-back Peter Henderson pictured in action against Old Crescent on Saturday. INLS4211-129KM
City of Derry full-back Peter Henderson pictured in action against Old Crescent on Saturday. INLS4211-129KM
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CITY OF Derry coach, Bevan Lynch is counting the cost of Saturday’s demoralising defeat to Midleton at Town’s Park following a serious injury sustained by last year’s leading try scorer, Peter Henderson.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The Judges Road club slumped to their third All-Ireland League Division 2A defeat against the Munster side but it was the injury to their influential full-back, Henderson which caused most concern for the club’s Kiwi coach.

Having played every minute of every game for the club last season, Henderson was instrumental in the local side’s promotion success.

However, the ever-present full-back could now miss much of this season’s campaign following a nasty collision against Midleton last Saturday afternoon.

Indeed, Henderson suffered a kick to the head and sustained a suspected broken nose and broken cheekbone among other injuries and will undergo surgery today.

Having already had to reshuffle his pack after injuries to locks, Bob McKillop and David Houston, added to the fact Richard McCarter didn’t travel with the squad, the loss of Henderson certainly left Derry facing an uphill struggle against a lowly Midleton outfit.

“The boys are obviously massively disappointed, as are the management but we were missing key personnel,” said Lynch. “With the likes of Richard McCarter not travelling down, David Houston and Bob McKillop missing - they’re big characters to replace and we certainly need some of those guys to come back, particularly with Peter dropping out of the side.

“That’s the first time Peter’s been taken off in about a year-and-a-half so to lose him is a big blow.

“That had a big bearing on the game when we lost one of our most influential players in Peter Henderson. He received a kick to the head and, if it wasn’t deliberate, it was pretty clumsy and he looks to have a broken cheekbone and broken nose so he has to go for an operation on Tuesday (today) to get a plate put into his head.”

Even without those key players, Derry would’ve been expected to bounce back from two successive AIL defeats with an away win in Cork, particularly given their performance against Division 1B leaders, Ballynahinch in the Ulster Senior Cup last weekend.

However, they simply lacked the necessary hunger and failed to match that free-scoring performance which they produced against the Co. Down men and gifted Midleton their first AIL win of the season as they leapfrogged Derry into 13th place.

“They certainly seemed to be the hungrier of the two sides,” admitted Lynch. “We were disappointed because we just didn’t show the accuracy or the hunger that we showed against Ballynahinch.

“We just didn’t put the game away and it really cost us because we certainly had enough opportunities in the first half to put in beyond their reach.

“We’ve gone from scoring six tries against the Division 1B leaders to basically going 60 minutes without scoring against possibly one of the bottom teams in Division 2A.

Lowest Point

“It was probably the lowest point we’ve been as a team for a while because it was a game we should have won and we didn’t. Collectively we weren’t clinical whereas they took their chances.”

Derry started the game with a purpose and raced into a 14-0 lead but it was their failure to punish Midleton when in the ascendancy which was most frustrating for Lynch.

“We started brightly and we were 14-0 up after the first 20 minutes and in total control but unfortunately we missed four or five opportunities to put the game out of reach.

“We then conceded a try right on half-time as they came back to 14-10 which gave them a bit of belief that they could win. And like all Munster sides, they dug in deep and played tight.

“It all went downhill from Peter’s injury and they got a try with about 20 minutes to go which put them ahead 17-14.

“We fought our way back into it but got held up at the line twice when Stephen Ferguson and David Funston got caught just short. So we missed those opportunities to go ahead and unfortunately leaked a try at the end.”

The Derry management won’t be too concerned with the start the club has made as the top of the table remains in sight but Lynch knows they must improve when they take on high flying Old Wesley this weekend.

“The grade is very, very close. Had we picked up five points down in Cork we would’ve been seventh in the table, as it is we’re 14th in the table.

“After four weeks there’s no team that have won all their games. It’s a grade that’s going to be super competitive which is great, but we need to get some consistency in our game.

“All the top teams lost at the weekend to teams that were below us. We’re something like nine points adrift from the top of the table and it would’ve been nice to close it up to four points and be right in the mix but it wasn’t to be,” concluded the Derry coach.