City of Derry in tough Ulster clash

City of Derry return to Ulster League action tomorrow when they welcome top-of-the-table Ballinahinch to Judges Road (k.o. 2.30pm)

Bevan Lynch’s men come into the clash in high spirits after an excellent result last week, when they virtually clinched promotion in the All-Ireland League Division Three on the road by beating Highfield 40-21.

It’s turning out another good season for City of Derry, who are looking at gaining promotion for the second season in succession.

They’re now third in the table, four points behind league leaders Seapoint with one game remaining. Four teams get promoted.

Disappointment is still mathematically possible, but the Judge’s Road men would have to lose their last match and Banbridge win both their remaining fixtures with bonus points. The last of those games is against Seapoint, so that scenario looks highly unlikely.

And the team has hit a rich vein of form as the season approaches a finish. They made the long trip to Cork last Friday in good spirits after a very fine bonus point win over Instonians the previous weekend.

They showed strength in depth by fashioning a good win despite the absence of influential players like Bob McKillop, David Witherow, Ryan Campbell and Josh Lewis.

City of Derry are also showing considerable resilience this season, and that too was demonstrated in Cork. David Funston was in outstanding form and helped the likes of Richard Peoples keep a big and powerful Highfield at bay when they surged to try and turn the game around.

Offensively Richard McCarter continues to show, as he did when helping to create a run-in try for Peter Henderson’s first try last Saturday.

Henderson remains in fine form, scoring his 22nd and 23rd tries of the season, and beating three men on the way to setting up McCleery and McCarter in a fine move for the final try last Saturday.

There are decent options on the bench, too, for City of Derry, as last week’s fixtured showed. Coach Bevan Lynch brought Stephen Duffy, Stephen Ferguson, Philip Brady and Stephen Simms on in the second half as Highfield threatened a significant breakthrough.

So the Derry side are in excellent spirits for the return to Ulster League action.

One notable aspect of last Saturday’s match was that it finished with three Duffy brothers on the pitch, the first time they finished an All-Ireland match together - a treat for their father Seamus.

Lynch is expected to use the full depth of his squad tomorrow with one eye on thier final AIL game at home to Naas weekend.