CITY OF Derry Seconds coach, James Doherty, believes his side’s Powerade Towns Cup success is evidence of the strength and depth within the club’s ranks at present.
The Judges Road side conceded a late equalising try in the dying seconds of extra-time in Easter Monday’s showpiece at Ravenhill to share the trophy with Ballyclare.
Doherty admitted that he was at first unsure whether to celebrate on the final whistle given the circumstances but, on reflection, he was thrilled with the magnitude of the achievement from the local club’s second string.
“For the neutral it must have been a great game to watch,” declared Doherty. “It was one of those games that could have gone either way with great forward play from both teams the whole way through.
“We fell behind during the early stages and it wasn’t until the second half that we finally moved in front. But the boys put in a tremendous performance to manage a draw with a team like Ballyclare who are playing so many divisions above them.
“For a Seconds team to get to the final and to get a result like that against a team like Ballyclare, it just shows the strength in depth we have here at City of Derry these days.”
The match itself was, perhaps, one of the most frantic in recent years with City of Derry Seconds scoring a try with just minutes remaining of injury time before Ballyclare scored a try of their own in dramatic fashion to ensure a share of the spoils with an 28-28 draw.
“The draw was probably the fairest result,” insisted the Seconds coach. “It wouldn’t have been fair for either team to have walked off there as runners-up.
“It was a bit surreal at the end. I was trying to think of when the last time there was a draw in the final and I don’t remember ever seeing the cup shared before.
“It is a rare occurrence for the two teams to draw, especially in such a high scoring game. At first we didn’t know whether to celebrate or be disappointed for just drawing.
“The Ballyclare guys invited us all back to the clubhouse for a bite to eat and few beers. That was great - it is one of the good things about rugby.”
Plenty of Optimism
A combination of experienced former first XV players and the exciting young talent coming through the ranks at Judges Road, has provided plenty of optimism for Doherty and the rest of the coaching staff at the club.
The Towns Cup success capped an outstanding three days for the Derry club which began with Mark Nicholl’s first team squad’s 72-7 All-Ireland League Division 2A victory over Midleton.
And Doherty is in no doubt that several members of his Seconds squad have the potential to make the breakthrough to the first team panel.
“They are definitely pushing on and hoping to get into the Firsts,” he added.
“There is a good mix of youth and experience there. You give some of the boys who have played in the first team in the past the opportunity and that experience can prove to be vital.
“You also have the likes of a few of the young guys hoping to push on. You have guys like Ross Harkin, David Murdoch and Adam Blair. They are all young guys who could be making that step up.
“I am extremely proud of the guys for their performance. I would also like to thank the rest of the club for their support - Mark Nicholl and Ashley Blair, the club’s administrators and everyone else.
“There is a lot of effort put in throughout the club and this isn’t something that happens in isolation,” he concluded.