Bevan backs Nicholl to build on success

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BEVAN Lynch admitted his final game at Judges Road had been something of an anti-climax after his City of Derry team were knocked out of the Division 2A promotion race by Jacques Benade’s resurgent Malone.

Michael Wilson reports

The defeat leaves Derry with only a place in the top four to play for when they travel to Queens in their final fixture of the season and the New Zealander conceded it was not the fairytale ending he was hoping for.

“We went out with a whimper when I thought we would go out with a bang,” admitted Lynch.

“I have come off this pitch many times very disappointed with our performance but today I’m thankful it was a decent team who played better than us and deserved to win. We have been beaten by teams that should never have beaten us, times when we have gifted teams victory but Malone were excellent.

“They had limited opportunities and they took them. They are a good team and if they go on and get promoted, I think they could do well up there.”

In a strange twist of fate, Saturday’s game brought Lynch almost a full circle as he had faced Benade, then coach at Dromore, in his first game as Derry Head coach.

“It has been a great journey with these guys. I put the same posters up on the wall before the game as I always have and used the same key points. Funnily enough it was Jacques who I face in my first game. We were both in Junior league and I think I won that day so that’s one each.

“Four years later, Jacques is back coaching Malone and that’s my last game at Judges Road. So my first and last game involved Jacques and I will have mixed memories of them. In between that I think we have made huge progress as a club. Obviously we have a lot of things off-field that need to be sorted out so we can support the growth. There are a lot of boys in Belfast wanting to play so we need to make sure we have a bus coming up from Belfast and fill it full of players looking to play for Derry.

“It is going to take a fair amount of initiative, management wise, to get this club to be able to fund and support that growth that is here.”

Lynch said he had every confidence in his assistant Mark Nicholl who will step up to the Head Coach role after this season.

“I’m confident Mark (Nicholl) will take it forward in the same vein. People respect us in Ulster. We are in the top three in the Ulster League and we are there or thereabouts in AIL 2A. If I could have taken that four years ago I would have but these boys have not yet reached their potential and I would like to see them kick-on from here,” he added.

Malone coach Benade said the game had changed on Funston’s second half yellow for a late tackle on John Creighton.

“I thought Derry were a bit unlucky because there were one or two tries out there that they didn’t take that could have put us under real pressure,” he explained. “Really, the game changed on the yellow card when we went and scored to make it 14-7 and then followed it quickly with the penalty. I think that was the difference on the day, maybe a yellow card.”