City of Derry Head Coach Terry McMaster was left to rue the loss of his influential half-back duo after defeat to UCC edged Derry closer to AIl Division 2B rugby next season.
Despite the one-point defeat though, McMaster was full of praise for a brave performance from his under strength troops.
You look at the spine of your team and we lost our No. 9 and 10 and, in effect, also our No. 15 because we have to bring him up to cover. That is the backbone of your side and it is fracturedCity of Derry Head Coach, Terry McMaster
“Yes, frustrating but also very, very proud of the effort our boys put in,” explained the Derry coach, “We couldn’t ask for any more. We were without our normal half backs - Andy Semple and Richard McCarter - and we lost a number of players through injury so I’m immensely proud of our efforts, both when we had the ball and without it. Our defence at times was just remarkable against a very talented U.C.C. side.
“Your half-backs are your game managers. Andy is not going to be with us for the rest of the season because of the six-week suspension. Richard will be back for Seapoint on Saturday week but it is difficult.
“You look at the spine of your team and we lost our No. 9 and 10 and, in effect, also our No. 15 because we have to bring him up to cover. That is the backbone of your side and it is fractured. That’s basically what hurt us.”
The absence of his half-back forced Derry to play with ball in hand more than the Derry coach would have liked against a hard-running U.C.C. side.
“We couldn’t kick the ball because of the weather, so our hand was forced. You saw in the first half when we had the elements; when we kicked it, that was when UCC were at their most dangerous. That meant we had to play with ball in hand because of the wind but, at the same time, had the game gone on another 30 seconds we may have talking about five points rather than a losing bonus point.
“It is just a pity we have started playing too late in the season but, as I said earlier, I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players that we have. They are in there devastated but they didn’t leave anything on the pitch; they couldn’t have given any more.”