Last chance saloon for Derry who have league title in grasp

City of Derry coach Terry McMaster thanks his players as they leave the pitch. INLS3415-117KM
City of Derry coach Terry McMaster thanks his players as they leave the pitch. INLS3415-117KM

CITY OF Derry coach, Terry McMaster is determined to finish the AIL Division 2B campaign in style and with a bonus point win over Barnhall which will guarantee the league title and automatic promotion.

Although disappointed his side hasn’t yet wrapped up the title following a run of five straight defeats, McMaster claims Derry have been ‘terribly, terribly unlucky’ not to clinch the points to get them over the line.

And he’s determined not to leave anything to chance at Judges Road tomorrow afternoon (K.o. 2.30 p.m.) in the final game of the season.

Derry gained a crucial bonus point in their defeat away to Bective Rangers last Saturday and because of that they come into tomorrow’s game one point ahead of Sundays Well and Highfield who are second in the league.

“If we get a bonus point victory we win the league, mathematically no one can catch us,” explained McMaster. “But even if we just win the game then there’s a chance we still win the league. Nevertheless, we’ll be going to try and get the bonus point win.

“We have one game left and we are just appealing to all those who are interested in rugby football in the city to get out to Judges Road, get behind us, because this isn’t about this group of players, this about getting promotion for the next generation as well.

“No one ever heard me saying anything was done and dusted as I’m too long in the game,” he added.

“Leads are funny things, they are a bit like cricket matches you could be going along 100 for none and then 101/7 and rugby can be very much the same.

“So I was under no illusions that although we had built up a cushion whenever you get to the business part of the season, there are teams who are fighting for their lives not to be relegated and there are sides fighting for their lives to get into the top four.“But it’s still in our hands so we just need everyone to come out and support us this Saturday and get us across the line when we play Barnhall. “We have been, terribly, terribly unlucky in those five games, because we have got a defensive bonus point in every game, so that just lets you know that it has been a one score game defeat, so had we scored once we would have won the game,” he added.

“On Saturday the referee blew the game up five minutes early, there was a stadium clock, which was stopping and starting and the referee went with it in the first half and didn’t in the second.

“It really was annoying because we were making decisions based on the stadium clock, so there was five minutes to go and we had two penalties and if we had known there was only a minute left we would have kicked to the corner, but as we wanted to keep the pace of the game going, we kept tapping and going.

“So it was frustrating when the referee blew the whistle on 75 minutes, because we thought there was still five minutes left, as did Bective, because when he blew the whistle everyone stood there wondering what decision has he given now and then he said ‘no the game is over guys’, everyone looked at the clock and said there’s still five minutes left, but he said ‘No, no I’m going with my watch now’, so that means you can’t have a stadium clock.

“It’s either turn the stadium clock off or the referee needs to tell the teams that he’s going by his watch.

“So we have been unlucky in some respects but we have one game left, it’s last chance saloon against Barnhall.”