CITY of Derry captain David Funston and back row Stephen Corr are both doubtful for this weekend’s tough AIL Division 2A trip to old rivals Seapoint.
Michael Wilson reports
The pair picked up injuries during last week’s disappointing 45-15 defeat to University College Cork with Derry Head Coach Mark Nicholl admitting both Corr (rib) and Funston (knee and ankle) face a race against time to be fit to face the Leinster men.
“I wouldn’t want to be ruling either of them out at present but Saturday might be a case of a few days too early for them,” explained Nicholl, “That would be a pity if it is the case because we have a break from the AIL for the next couple of weeks but we will know more after our last training session.”
Peter Henderson and Richard Baird are still sidelined although Chris Cooper should be available as is Chris Barber with everyone anxious to make up for last week’s reversal.
“We have watched the video from last week and we actually played well at times but you have to acknowledge that U.C.C. were clinical. Some of their off-loading was exceptional whereas we tried to force the issue at times.
“I spoke to their coach, David O’Mahoney, after the game and he was saying he believed their performance was the best they had played for a number of years in the All Ireland League. He also acknowledged that it was a day when most of their 50/50 off-loads came off. On another day that might not have happened so it was not all doom and gloom.
“I thought some periods of our second half were very good but the boys know themselves where the mistakes were made. They know they have to tackle better but no-one was too despondent on Tuesday. The players know they were not as bad as some people have suggested. We had a tough session on Tuesday night and moved on.”
Tomorrow’s opponents also suffered an opening day defeat, Seapoint falling foul of some last minute quick thinking by Old Wesley to lose a game they thought they had won. Out-half Brian Keegan kicked a penalty as the game was going into injury time to put his team 18-15 ahead and seemingly confirm victory. However, Old Wesley had other ideas and got themselves back into the Seapoint half to level almost immediately with a 40m penalty. Seapoint had settled for a draw but when the referee blew the whistle six minutes into injury time for an indirect penalty 35m from the posts, the big Wesley second-row tapped to himself and galloped in for a converted try with everyone thinking the final whistle had been blown!
Both sides then with something to prove tomorrow and the Derry Head Coach said he was expecting a very different game in Dublin from the open attacking spectacle at Judges Road last week.
“Seapoint are a team we know very well and they always give us a good run, usually getting the better of us in recent years,” he added, “They are a very different prospect from UCC. For Seapoint it is all about defence. They love to sit in and soak up pressure, then hit you on the counter-attack but we are confident. It will be a tough game but one we’re looking forward to.”
Derry don’t have a great record against the Dubliners, the teams meeting four times since their inaugural fixture back in 2009/10 season when Seapoint got the better of Bevan Lynch’s men in the Round Robin Qualifying Series though Derry did go on to secure promotion via a play-off.
The sides were promoted alongside each other again the following season with Derry making up for a controversial 9-6 away defeat by pipping Seapoint to the AIL Division Three title on the last day of the season. Derry’s sole victory remains the first meeting of the teams back in the Junior ranks when the locals registered a 19-14 victory en route to winning the AIB Junior Cup.