City of Derry: Title race not over yet claims McMaster!

City of Derry's Simon Logue holds off this tackle from Highfield player Chris Bannon as he powers through to score Derry's opening try. INLS0316-147KM
City of Derry's Simon Logue holds off this tackle from Highfield player Chris Bannon as he powers through to score Derry's opening try. INLS0316-147KM
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City of Derry Head Coach Terry McMaster claims his players cannot afford to take anything for granted despite the Judges Road men taking control of AIL Division 2B with an emphatic 33-10 victory over closest rivals Highfield.

The result leaves Derry 13 points clear of Sunday’s Well how moved up to second with a 14-8 victory over Seapoint but with Ulster derbies to come against Rainey and Dungannon in the next three weeks, McMaster needs his players to refocus quickly

It’s not over until the ‘Fat lady’ sings and I haven’t even heard her clear her throat yet! No, we’ll not get carried away.

City of Derry Head Coach, Terry McMaster

“I have talked about how important the Highfield game was and I think for the club it is probably the most important victory for a long time because we aspire to be a Division One side,” explained McMaster, “Whether that is Division 1A or 1B who knows but we have to pitch ourselves against the best and that was first against second.

“We are not going to be smug about it. We put a big shift in and got our reward but we will regroup because in the next three games we have two Ulster derbies.

“Those are potential ‘banana skins’ and my job as Head Coach is to make sure the player don’t become smug, to ensure they stay grounded. That said, they are a grounded group and there are plenty of leaders to make sure feet stay on the floor.”

Two tries each from the outstanding Andrew Semple and Simon Logue and one from Stephen Corr provided decisive against the Cork team who had established an early second half lead before Semple’s crucial intercept try changed the game. Despite their advantage, McMaster refused to acknowledge the title race was over.

“It’s not over until the ‘Fat lady’ sings and I haven’t even heard her clear her throat yet! No, we’ll not get carried away. By Tuesday night we will have dissected the ‘work ons’ rather than the five tries and look at how to improve things.

“As Head Coach, it’s my job to make sure they don’t take the players don’t take eye off the ball. We are thorough in our preparation and that is part of it. Games are not just won on the pitch and the players will be back in the gym on Monday with Joe (Gallanagh).”

Derry had started slowly on Saturday but went in 7-3 ahead at the interval as McMaster admitted there had been nerves before the game and pin-pointed Semple’s first try, two minutes after Highfield had taken that second half lead as they turning point.

“Yes, we were nervous. I said the players at half-time just to calm down. That it would happen if we let it happen. We were snatching at ball in the first half. We were slipping off tackles but we got it right and got our just rewards.

“We were disappointed in their try and the individuals know who I’m talking about. It was an easy out for them to come down from (the second-half) kick off and get a scrum near our line. Highfield’s set-play was good, their scrum and line-out were both good, so for Andy to turn possession over and score like he did, definitely, that was the turning point.”

That Highfield try is the only Derry have conceded in two games since a team meeting to address their poor defensive record prior to the Christmas break.

“We met about defence over Christmas. We looked at the ‘Points For’ and Points Against’ column and one of the things I points out was Seapoint - who were bottom of the league - had a better defensive record than us.

“We worked hard on it in training. We don’t normally do contact in training but over Christmas when we had a three week break it allowed us to work at it in training and that’s paying dividends now.”