BEVAN LYNCH ends a memorable four year affiliation with City of Derry Rugby Club tomorrow afternoon but he refuses to allow the emotions of the occasion prevent him from accomplishing his pre-season target.
simon collins reports
The modest Kiwi will no doubt have plenty of time to look back fondly at his incredible achievements with a uniquely talented collection of players when his tenure finally comes to an end and he returns home.
However, the Derry Head Coach will put on hold any urges to reflect on such a hugely successful period in the Judges Road club’s history until they complete their final All-Ireland League game against Queens, with a top four finish in Division 2A the objective.
Having missed out on a third successive promotion following defeat to Malone last weekend, Lynch wants his players to end the season on a high with victory in Belfast tomorrow.
“We’re just trying to concentrate on achieving one of the goals that we set out to do at the beginning of the year and that was to finish in the top four in the second division.
“We sat around the changing rooms on Tuesday and the boys were clearly focused on securing that fourth place. That’s primarily what we’ve got to do.
“We’ve played two matches against Queens in senior rugby and we haven’t lost either of them and we’re determined to make it a third.
“Queens have some quality players and they’ll be hugely motivated. Hopefully we can rise to the occasion and we certainly have the fire-power to cancel out their strengths and apply pressure in some of the areas we know we are better than them.
“We finished second in the Ulster League and to get a top four finish in the AIL would be a good reward for the hard work that we’ve put in this year.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet that this is my last game because I’ll be around for a month or two afterwards, finishing off teaching. Certainly at the end of the game I think it will all sink in and we can start thinking about it all.”
And Lynch doesn’t believe that his absence next year will affect the club greatly, adding the change in management may just be what the players need to go that extra bit further next year.
“I’m just another cog in the wheel at the club,” he added. “If there’s one thing that everyone realises, it’s that everyone is accountable for this team’s success. The players are in control of their own destiny as long as the club can keep them together.
“We’ve got good people coming on board with Mark Nicholl who brings continuity and someone who has a good lot of senior experience in Ashley Blair who, like myself, is an ex-P.E teacher and he’ll help with the skills and the fitness.
“I think sometimes it’s good to have change. Four years is a good time now for a bit of change to get some new ideas in and to keep challenging these players.
“If anything, we maybe weren’t as hungry as we were last year. Last year no one really respected us and we didn’t respect them either. This year we were dug deep but we just didn’t do it against Malone. A change of personnel could be good for the players.”
The Derry coach may not be alone in ending his association with the club as captain, Sam McCauley is understood to be contemplating retiring after tomorrow’s game and Lynch expects it to be an emotional affair.
“Even our captain, Sam McCauley is talking about possibly retiring but hopefully we can keep him so it‘ll be a big occasion for a number of players,” he concluded.