CITY OF DERRY begin with trip to Barnhall

City of Derry's John Burns on his way to scoring the opening try against Armagh at Judges Road last week. Burns was one of a number of impressive new performers in green and black. DERR3515GS028
City of Derry's John Burns on his way to scoring the opening try against Armagh at Judges Road last week. Burns was one of a number of impressive new performers in green and black. DERR3515GS028

City of Derry Head Coach Terry McMaster is enjoying something of a selection headache as he prepares to take his team to Parsonstown to meet Barnhall in their AIL Divsion 2B opener.

The Judges Road men were impressive Senior Cup winners against Armagh last Saturday with Ali Beckett, John and Neil Burns and Neil Brown making excellent debuts.

McMaster has said promotion is the target in a season which will see ‘home and away’ fixtures for the first time in the league and the coach believes those who were absent last week will prove as crucial as s those playing.

“The real business begins this weekend,” agreed McMaster, “We will be skipping around the M50 to Barnhall and we know it will be different from Armagh last week.

“This is the main competition but we’ll be giving it everything this year to get back up.

“It is all about the ‘Squad’. If you look at last week, Rory Squires still has to come in for us and he is starting tight head for Ulster U2s; Ger Collins, the Bruff tight head has joined us and he wasn’t there last week.

“David Ferguson, our captain and player of the year last year is back in full training and making himself available although we will talk to the physios on that one before we pick the team.

“Ross Harkin played for the Seconds last Saturday and he started for the Firsts many times last season; Stephen Corr was unavailable; last week; Chris Cooper another who was also unavailable.

“So, when you start to consider that a lot of those guys have to come in and many of them would see themselves as starters.

“However, when the players come into like that they did last week and they stick their hand up, well, that’s a nice selection headache.

“For a coach, that’s the wonderful situation. David Funston should be available this week as well so there’s another one. We’re shaping up nicely.”

McMaster will also hope to have Simon Logue back after he turned his ankle in the warm-up last week, the Derry coach leaving him out with one eye on this weekend’s game.

Like Derry, Barnhall missed out on one of the top 10 spots in last year’s league on the final day, the Kildare men finishing level on points with the locals but one place above them in 11th place.

That will likely put them among the early favourites so victory for Derry would be a huge boost to start .

“It’s a results driven game and our goal is to get promotion, we want to win the league and we have recruited to do that,” added McMaster.