Bevan back as Derry entertain Galwegians

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BEVAN Lynch will be back at Judges Road tomorrow as City of Derry welcome Connacht side Galwegians for a crucial All Ireland League Division 2A promotion battle.

Michael Wilson reports

Derry’s double promotion winning coach is currently in charge of the London Irish Amateur side and has led the ‘Wild Geese’ to an unbeaten 12-game start to their National 3 League campaign. However, he remains in constant contact with the club and, in particular, current Head Coach Mark Nicholl with whom he formed such a successful partnership before his departure for England at the end of last season.

With Derry facing critical AIL fixtures against first Galwegians and then away to Cashel next weekend, Nicholl believes Lynch’s return on holiday will provide a timely boost to a Derry team slowly returning to full strength after missing at least nine first team players for last week’s Ulster Senior Cup semi-final defeat to Ballymena.

“It will be great to see Bevan again,” agreed Nicholl, “We are still in regular contact and discuss both the City of Derry and London Irish Amateur results. It will be a boost for the boys to see him back as well but the most important thing is getting a result. This is such a tight division, every game is important and we have to make home advantage count.”

After the frustrations of last week’s controversial 19-12 defeat in Eaton Park, a result that hinged on a number of key decisions including a red card for Chris Cooper, Nicholl should have a number of key men back for the visit of the Connacht side.

Peter Henderson returns after completing medical exams while Richard Baird looks set to play his first AIL game of the season alongside Davy Houston who is also back after missing last week. Captain David Funston should be fit for next week’s game - as should Simon Logue - while Richard McCarter, who hobbled out of the pre-match warm-up against Ballymena faces a late test but is expected to play. Definitely out of tomorrow’s game is Bob McKillop and Gareth Beattie, both of whom picked up injuries in Eaton Park.

“It was very frustrating for the players last week because it is a game that, even with 13 or 14 players for large period of the game, we could easily have won it. We were down something like nine players and of those at least six would probably have started the game.

“Losing Richie (McCarter) in the warm-up was a big blow. It really disrupted our plans and our ability to play the wide game we wanted to but the boys dug in and the performance was much improved on the week before which wasn’t good enough.

“Some of the decisions were very frustrating and even with the red card and the number of yellow cards there was, it wasn’t that type of game. Losing Stephen Corr 20 seconds after Cooper was sent off made it very difficult but the boys still believe they could have won it and with a bit of luck they probably would have. I was much happier with the way we played. Yes, it was a competition we wanted to win so there is that disappointment but the performance was much more like what I want from the players.”

Looking at tomorrow’s opposition who sit level on 15 points with Derry but two positions above them in sixth, Nicholl admits they are something of an unknown quantity but prefers to concentrate on his own team’s strengths.

“Galwegians can basically put out two different sides depending on who Connacht release to them and recently they have released quite a few players so they have had some good results, notably against Corinthians. They are a tidy side with a good set-piece and a few handy backs but you could say that about any team in this division. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch them yet but you know you will get nothing easy so we have to concentrate on ourselves and our own game.

“We are hoping by next week we should have something like a full panel available again so we just have to ride out the storm until Christmas but I have no doubt whatsoever that the player who play on Saturday are capable of getting a result for us.”