CITY OF DERRY launch their bid for a third successive promotion tomorrow as they welcome Leinster’s Terenure to Judges Road for the opening game of their 2011/12 All-Ireland League Division 2A campaign (kick-off 2.30 p.m)
Michael Wilson reports
The Dubliners finished ninth in last season’s AIL Division 2 with a record of seven victories, one draw and seven defeats from their 15 games but that statistic belies the fact that five of those defeats were by seven points or less. Derry forwards coach Mark Nicholl is therefore under no illusion of the dangers posed by the Dubliners.
“Terenure have some very quick, agile backs although I don’t think their pack is as big as ours which could be an area for us to exploit,” explained Nicholl.
“From what we know they like to play an open, expansive game which should make for a very interesting match. We have looked at a few videos of their games last season and spoken to a few coaches. They lost five games last season by seven points or less which, had they won, would have taken them very close to the top. That gives an indication of how dangerous they can be.
“It is definitely not an easy start and we are expecting a tough game but there won’t be any easy games in this division. It is a step up but the players are really looking forward to getting started and that’s one of the main things.”
Derry have doubts over the availability of second row Philip Brady who turned his ankle in last week’s excellent victory over Queens in Belfast while Chris Barber pulled up in training during the week with a tight hamstring but both are expected to be passed fit. However, Nicholl and head coach Bevan Lynch will delay naming the starting side until after the squad’s final training session.
“We should be pretty much at full strength. In terms of preparation we are probably where we wanted to be for the AIL. We did have an issue with the line-outs a few weeks back but that is sorted out. We only lost, I think, one from 11 against Queens last week so that’s not going to be an issue for us.”
Derry have blown somewhat hot and cold in the Ulster League to date as the management team run their eye over various combinations and systems. Now the real business begins with tomorrow’s game being followed by an away trip to Corinthians before hosting Old Crescent at Judges Road on October 15th.
“It is not an easy start and we are expecting a tough game this weekend but, as I said, there won’t be any easy game in this division. It is a step up but the players are really looking forward to getting started and that’s one of the main things you look for.
“It is our ambition to finish in the top two this year and go up to Division 1B so it’s very important that we get off to a good start. For morale as much as anything it is important but for promotion you need to be winning your home games.
“There should be a good crowd at Judges Road, The AIL tends to bring the supporters out, especially when it is the first game of the season and we always want to do well on our own pitch,” he added.