Derry one point from AIL promotion

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BEVAN lynch has challenged his City of Derry squad to not only secure promotion to AIL 2A tomorrow against Naas but go on and establish the Judges Road club as one of the country’s top teams (k.o. 2.30pm)

MICHAEL WILSON reports

The locals require only one point from their final fixture to guarantee a second successive promotion and have still a mathematical shot at the title. They trail leaders Seapoint by four points but the Dubliners must travel to County Down tomorrow to take on fifth place Banbridge who themselves know only a bonus point win would propel them into an automatic promotion spot, if either Derry or fourth placed Greystones slip.

It all adds up to a fascinating final day with a big crowd expected at Judges Road as Derry seek to end their season in style.

“As a team you don’t want uncertainties and it is not outside the realms of possibility that Seapoint could lose without a bonus point but we need to guarantee promotion ourselves,” explained Lynch, who is hoping to add Tom Patton to the squad tomorrow.

“We want to finish the season with five points and then we’ll see where that takes us. Banbridge won’t be short of motivation but the same could be said for Seapoint who will be anxious to win the title. Greystones are only one point behind us on paper but they have probably the toughest test of the contenders at Navan. Nothing is a forgone conclusion and every coach will be telling his team the same thing.

“We are vulnerable because, along with Greystones, we can be caught but it also in our own hands and we want to make sure we finish the job this weekend.”

Derry is hoping to add Tom Patton to his squad but he is in little doubt his team have the right ingredients to compete at a higher level.

“We have a great bunch of young players and the thing is, even if we do secure promotion we won’t be finishing there. These players have proven they can compete with AIL One and Two teams if the concentration is right and that’s what we will have to work toward in the summer providing we get the right result on Saturday.

“We have to remember nothing has been won yet. We are not promoted and we are trying to keep things grounded but the players know they are close to achieving something very special for the club, something it has not managed in quite some time.”

Lynch will be hoping to put last week’s disappointing Ulster league defeat to Ballynahinch behind him although he admitted that it had been difficult to maintain the focus for that fixture with such a pivotal game looming.

“Last week was disappointing but it is a big ask to win three ‘must win’ games in succession and it was probably a bit of self preservation on our part. We definitely lost a bit of intensity and when you don’t play with intensity against a team like Ballynahinch you’re asking for trouble.

“We were pretty upset, particularly about two five minute periods in the game which cost us something like 14 points. It was down to simple lack of concentration and if we are honest with ourselves, there are no excuses for it. It doesn’t matter if you have a big game the following week, we were poor but we have a chance to put that behind us this week.”

Derry has played Naas on three occasions over the years in AIL 3 with honours even. Derry won away in season 2002/03 while the following season the honours was shared in a 6-6 draw.

Naas come to Derry with little but pride to play which points to an overwhelming home victory. Lynch, however, will guard against complacency but if Derry can rediscover the aggression that put Instonians to the sword two weeks ago then it should be party time at Judges Road come 4.00pm tomorrow.

City of Derry (from): Davy Witherow, Sam McAuley, Stephen Duffy, Sam Duffy, Tom Patton, David Houston. Stephen Corr, Stephen Simms, Richard Baird, Chris Cooper, Philip Brady, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard Peoples, Richard McCarter, David Funston, Ryan Campbell, Stuart Thompson, Ryan Campbell, William McCleery, David Murdock, Josh Lewis, Rudi Moore, Peter Henderson.