CITY OF Derry head coach, Bevan Lynch has billed tomorrow’s All-Ireland League clash with Bective Rangers as a ‘defining game’ in the club’s season. (Kick-off 2.30 p.m.)
The Kiwi coach travels to Donnybrook with a fully fit squad for the first time this season and he stressed the importance of returning home with a victory which would keep alive the club’s hopes of promotion.
Derry and tomorrow’s opponents are among eight teams still involved in the hunt for second place in the Division 2A table and that automatic promotion spot.
Therefore, defeat is unthinkable for either club but Lynch is confident his side can maintain their charge for promotion and extend their winning run with just three games remaining.
“We will have a full squad to choose from for the first time this season,” he confirmed. “It was great to get 80 minutes from Bob McKillop and William McCleery and 60 minutes from Stephen Ferguson against Greystones two weeks ago.
“We also had Chris Shields and David Funston take full part in training this week and we look forward to what should be a massive challenge and a defining game in our season”.
Derry and Bective have been evenly matched over the years and have played all their games against one another in AIL Divisions Two and Three.
They have played each other seven times in total with four wins for the men from the North-West. The first time they played one another was in the inaugural AIL season 1993-1994 in Division Three at Judges Road, with Derry winning by 13 points to 9 points on that occasion.
The other outstanding game against Bective, from a Derry perspective, was in their first encounter in AIL Two at Donnybrook in the season 1996-1997 where Derry won that game by 11 points to 8 points.
The current Bective team boast a big, abrasive pack with an excellent set-piece at both scrum and line-out and they’ve proved themselves to be one of the most physical teams in the league at the breakdown.
They were the only team to defeat leaders, Trinity in the league this season when they ran out deserved winners by 19 points to 12 points last October.
Bective also have had impressive victories against Queen’s, Old Crescent, Corinthians and Terenure, and they are especially impressive at home.
Derry will be fully aware that victory will certainly keep alive their promotion hopes with a home fixture against Malone next Saturday and Queen’s away the following weekend - their final matches of the AIL season.
The City of Derry team to play Bective is expected to be - Chris Shields, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, Brian Prue, David Houston, Stephen Corr, Richard Baird, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Simon Logue, Chris Barber, David Funston, William McCleery, Peter Henderson; Replacements; Gareth Beattie, Stephen Duffy, Bob McKillop, Adam Bratton, Josh Lewis or Richard Peoples.