City of Derry Head Coach Terry McMaster admits he is having to manage growing expectations after his table-toppers made it six AIL wins from six with a narrow victory over third placed Greystones at Judges Road on Saturday.
Derry secured the 20-17 victory thanks to first half tries from Chris Cooper and Stephen Dickey with two Andrew Semple penalties but they were forced to withstand a fierce Greystones fight back which had them pinned inside their own ‘22 for the closing minutes.
The win left Derry six points clear at the top and as the only side with an unbeaten record, McMaster accepts his team are there to be shot at.
“We have spoken about it and we know we are right up there,” explained the Derry coach, “We know we’re at the top of that league and when you’re there, you are there to be shot down but we’ll handle that. It is part of my role to be able to talk players through those pressure situations and they were in a pressure situation against Greystones and they came though it which we are delighted with.”
Derry were missing several first team regulars which McMaster believes made the result even more significant.
“We set our stall out at the start of the season and said we had a god squad. We have depth but because of so many being unavailable last week were stretched and we knew we were going to struggle the longer the game went on.
“We wanted to get the game done and dusted in the first half but that didn’t happen because we were up against a side that was third in the league and it went right to the wire but we were delighted with the spirit and composure of the guys in adversity.”
Next up for the Judges Road side is a trip to Cork to take on second placed Highfield and another chance to lay down a significant season marker.
“It won’t be season defining but it certainly will have an imprint on things. If we can go on the road to Cork next week and get something out of the game, we will be delighted but it will take a squad effort. We need to sit down and see who is available again. We know we have one or two unavailable but in an area we have considerable strength so that won’t weaken us.”