CITY of Derry dropped to eighth in All Ireland League Division 2A following a comprehensive six-try defeat to fellow promotion hopefuls Terenure College in Lakelands Park, Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
Derry were down 19-3 at half time despite playing with the advantage of the strong breeze but it was the loss of two defensive line-outs on their own throw which gifted the Dubliners 14 points and the platform for a vital victory in what is becoming a very congested top half of the table. Even from their mid-table postion, second spot remains only five points from Mark Nicholl’s team, such is the close proximity of teams behind undefeated leaders Banbridge.
The locals had enjoyed a decent start to the second half as they sought a path back into the game but it was nullified when the game reverted to uncontested scrums for 20 minutes after Terenure had two props sent to the sin bin in quick succession. This meant, even with the numerical advantage, there no advantage to Derry who a fresh front row sitting on the bench ready to be called into action.
With conditions close to perfect in West Dublin, Derry started with an intensity that almost produced an early try as David Houston, Brian Prue and Adam Bratton all went close but the visitors’ only reward was a penalty in front of the post which Richard McCarter kickeconverted seven minutes in for a three points lead.
Terenure came back strongly from the kick-off and it took a couple of penalty infringements to keep them at bay but in the process Derry lost Tom Patton to the sin-bin. Terenure showed their intent by kicking to the corner from 10m on three occasions but terrific defence from Chris Barber, Ryan Campbell, Stephen Corr and Sam McAuley saw Derry clear their lines.
Terenure out-half Willie Staunton was becoming more influential with accurate line kicking giving his team great attacking postiions which allowed some lovely link play between backs and forwards.
The first of Derry’s crucial mistakes arrived on 22 minutes when an ‘over throw’ in the lineout saw Terenure wing-forward James O’Neill make a fine break inside the Derry 22’ before touching down for a try and a 7-3 lead. O’Neill made another fine break four minutes later and off-loaded to left winger Terry Jones to touch down for an unconverted try in the corner and suddenly from three points up Derry trailed 12-3.
Derry then saw prop Paul McFeely, who picked an ankle injury, replaced by Gareth Beattie on the half hour mark but another miss throw in the line-out on 32 minutes again gifted good possession to Terenure. Staunton quickly spread play across the pitch for full-back Ian Hanley to touch down for a try which Staunton converted and Derry were behind 19-3.
Derry thought they were back in the game on 35 minutes in an incident which could have changed the match. Peter Henderson created space to release winger William McCleery, a late replacement for injured Simon Logue, McCleery chipped the last man from 30m and seemed to touch down for a good try but the referee was behind play and after consulting with the linesman, controversially deemed the ball had not grounded.
McCarter and Staunton both hit the posts with kickable penalties in injury time which kept the half-time score at 19-3 in favour of Terenure.
Derry coaches Mark Nicholl and Ashley Blair had their players primed from the off in the second half and it was incessant pressure on the Terenure line with Chris Shields, Sam McAuley and Gareth Beattie dominating in the scrum and Terenure infringing to defend their line. It was seven minutes of sustained Derry pressure eveentually led to Terenure prop Conor Mofatt being sent to the sin bin but with no front row replacement due to an injury in the warm up the game reverted to uncontested scrums. This was of little advantage to Derry but their pressure eventually told on 55 minutes when Andrew Semple touched down for a try and with McCarter converting the deficit was down to nine at 19-10.
Terenure eventually got out of their own half on the hour mark and from a lineout, ‘Man of the Match’ Staunton worked his magic in front of the posts with a quick dummy pass which allowed him to touch down between the posts. Wwhen he converted Terenurehad a match-winning advantage at 26-10 with the bonus point secured.
Derry lifted their game again from the kick off and when another Terenure front row player reserve Jonathan Barretto was sent to the bin on 63 minutes it was back to another 10 minutes of uncontested scrums and advantage to Nicholl’s men.
Staunton produced again on 68 minutes with an exquisite 40m cross field kick on the Derry 22’ which saw winger Terry Jones collect in full stride to touch down for a try in the corner with Staunton again adding the extras for a 33-10 advantage.
Right winger Conor Kelly finished off the scoring for Terenuretwo minutes from the end when he touched down in the corner for an unconverted try and a deserved victory.
This was a disappointing result for Derry who travelled to Dublin with high hopes but Nicholl and Blair will be unhappy with the performance of their charges more than the result itself. They will be hoping to get some of their injured players back on the pitch for their visit to Ballymena next Saturday in the First Trust Senior Cup Semi-Final.
City of Derry; Chris Shields, Sam McAuley, Paul McFeely, David Houston, Brian Prue, Adam Bratton, Tom Patton, Stephen Corr, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, William McCleery, Ryan Campbell, Chris Barber, David Graham, Peter Henderson, Replacements; Cathal Cregan, Gareth Beattie, Steven Jefferson, Johnny Lyons, Adam Parke.