City of Derry seek to bounce back in Dublin

CITY of Derry head coach Bevan Lynch admits he may have underestimated the psychological damage the recent Ulster Senior Cup semi-final defeat against Ballymena inflicted on his squad.

Michael Wilson reports

Lynch, who is preparing his side to travel to Dublin City University tomorrow in AIL 2A, cut a frustrated figure along the touchline last week as his side badly under-performed in a lacklustre 29-20 league defeat against old rivals Seapoint at Judges Road.

That setback left Derry in 13th position but it was the manner of the defeat which was the biggest disappointment for Lynch

“I quickly moved on from the Ballymena game to Seapoint because, for me, that’s where the priorities lay but the players weren’t able to move on as quickly,” explained the Derry coach.

“I didn’t realise myself how badly that Ballymena defeat had stung some of the players, I mean, it was a great chance to win the Cup for only the second time in the club’s history.

“Against Seapoint we only played in fits and starts with the rest woefully mediocre against a team we could have put away. To lose a Senior Cup semi-final and an important league game in such a short space of time has been tough on everyone but we had a bit of ‘blood-letting’ this week and I’m looking for the boys to bounce back as they always do.”

The Kiwi, who welcomes Davy Houston back for tomorrow’s game, claimed he side could emerge stronger from what has been a trying period for everyone.

“This is where we do our learning as a group, as players and as a management team. It is in times like this that you grow and you either grow or perish but there is too much quality in this squad to perish.

“The disappointing thing about the Seapoint game was that we weren’t outplayed, Seapoint simply had more passion than us and used the elements when they had them.

“Rugby is all about attitude and when ours is right we can show off all the skills and quality we have within a very talented squad but when our attitude is not right then we are as mediocre as the next team.

“We didn’t do a lot in training on Tuesday, we just had a look at last week’s game and tried to get the focus back. Sam (McAuley) has been going a round the players this week to try and make sure there is not a repeat of last week.”

With only four wins from six AIL games, Derry face a tough task if they are to climb into a challenging position but Lynch is looking no further than tomorrow

“It is always about your next game. You put your long term goals in place but you can never afford to look too far ahead and for us it is now about putting in a performance against Dublin.

“This week I’m looking forward to seeing a bit of variety back in our game against a side that is not dissimilar from ourselves. Dublin will be a difficult proposition and it is a very hard place to go and win. Last week would have been a good time to have got them after they lost their colours game but they bounced back from that disappointment well.

“Ironically it had not been a bad month for us until the Ballymena defeat, then 10 minutes of madness at the start of that game and the unlucky bounce of a ball before half-time changed our mentality and we have to get it back.”