CITY OF Derry coach, Bevan Lynch has challenged his players to rediscover their hunger ahead of tomorrow’s Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final clash with Ballynahinch at Ballymacarn Park.
Michael Wilson reports.
Following an opening All-Ireland League victory over Terenure, Lynch’s team have suffered costly defeats at Corinthians and Old Crescent, setbacks which have seen the Judges Road men slip to 11th in Division 2A. Last week’s reversal against Crescent was a particular low point for Lynch as his side conceded 21 turnovers against a team they had been expected to defeat comfortably.
The Head Coach sat his players down in training this week to review a video of that 26-19 defeat which he claimed left no hiding place for anyone not meeting the standards they had set themselves over two successive promotion seasons.
“There has been a distinct lack of effort recently,” explained Lynch, “Last week was very poor. We stripped the Old Crescent performance down and it wasn’t pleasant viewing for the players, they could see themselves where things had been going wrong.
“The video doesn’t lie and our poor recent performances come down to effort and application, it’s as simple as that. The thing is, we know how good these players can be and have seen it against better teams than Old Crescent. We had only three players from the 15 playing anything like they can and that’s not good enough to win a game.
“Some players have been really under-performing and they have to take responsibility. The great Wayne Smith said, ‘the only thing you can control is effort’ and this week we’ll be looking for more honesty of effort. After all, the teams which have beaten us are not more skilled than us.”
Despite the setbacks, Lynch believes his side are still capable of competing at the top end of the Division 2A table.
“In the AIL we are still looking at trying to make top four. We have only five points from a possible 15 but we know from last season how quickly things can change. We certainly have not been distracted by talk of making the top four but we know we have to improve to achieve that.
“We have not been intimidated by anyone we have met so far and we know how good we can be, so I will be looking for a positive response this weekend.
“Some of the problems are down to the fact we are coming out of a grade where we have been used to winning and teams this year know more about us. The surprise element is certainly gone. Teams now know what we are capable of and try to counteract that but the bottom line is our work rate is not where it should be.
“When you look at the table, three of the teams below us are the other promoted teams and last Saturday’s performance wouldn’t have beaten any of those teams.
“We will be looking to go to Midleton and revive our AIL season but first we must put in a performance against Ballynahinch which is no easy task, though I’m expecting the boys to crank things up from last week.”
Tomorrow’s clash will see Adam Bratton back on familiar territory at the club he left in the summer and while Lynch would love his team to go one step better than last year’s beaten final appearance, it is the performance level that the Kiwi is most concerned with.
“The Cup is always a game you have to win but above all I want to see a performance,” adds Lynch, “Ballynahinch will still be smarting from last season’s Cup defeat and I’m sure they will have a nice welcoming party ready for us, so we are under no illusions about how difficult the game will be.
“Ballynahinch are going to be a real test. Their whole grade is quite level. Queens are top but we defeated them quite comfortably in one of the games we played well in this season. How we played against teams like Queens puts into context just how badly we have performed in our recent games. However the attitude at training this week was excellent. The players worked very hard on Tuesday and even 15% of that effort would have sent Old Crescent back to Limerick with no points.
“This is a must win game for us and I will be looking to field as strong a team as I can. It is a very difficult place to go but we are hoping to see a reaction from last week,” he added.