CITY of Derry Head coach Mark Nicholl admitted Saturday’s dramatic late victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Galway Corinthians could prove a pivotal result in the AIL Division 2A season.
Michael Wilson reports
Despite some impressive passages of play, Derry were staring down the barrel of a second home AIL defeat after Phil Pretorious’ previously unbeaten team fought back to lead 33-25 as the game ticked into injury time. Victory for the visitors on Saturday would have taken them clear at the top of the table alongside Banbridge but Derry had other ideas.
First Cathal Cregan and then David Graham capped a magnificent comeback which, in all honesty, should never have been called for but it again demonstrated the spirit that exists with this Derry panel.
“It was a crazy game but, as always, Derry don’t seem to do these things by halves,” admitted Nicholl afterwards, “I’m delighted with the result. Some of our play was outstanding but some of it was very, very poor and we have a lot of work ahead of us in the next two week before we go to Terenure.
“It was probably our best result of the season to date and when we play well we can really put teams to bed. That was a disappointing aspect of the game (that we didn’t put it to bed earlier), we always seem to be both very good and very bad in the same game. If we can cut out the silly mistakes and the individual errors, we have the potential to be a very, very good side.”
With a Senior Cup semi-final against Ballymena also on the horizon for the Judges Road club the season is building nicely band Nicholl knows his players will need to show the same desire throughout what is going to be a difficult run of fixtures, beginning with a trip to Terenure in two weeks.
“We talked at half time about how dangerous Corinthians could be but a couple of times in the second half we kicked ball away when maybe we shouldn’t have but the players showed great character to get the victory.
“If the players realise what they are capable of on the pitch, you can see what the end result is at the end but this is still quite a young side and there is a lot of learning to be done. Look, at the and of the day, had someone given me a 35-33 win before the game started I would have taken it.”
Nicholl had set his team a 15 point target from their first four games and Saturday’s victory brought them to that tally albeit in slightly more dramatic fashion than the coaching staff would have liked.
“It’s a big victory considering last season we went down there and they defeated us quite comprehensively. We have a week off this week and we talked about giving it one last big push before the break. Corinthians are a very good side and we can take confidence from the result but we have a massive, massive game against Terenure in two weeks time and that’s where we will be to concentrate now. This was a big victory but now we move on.
“We are delighted to hit that 15 point mark. Hopefully we can kick on from here. We have a huge November coming up with some very big AIL games and the semi-final of the Senior Cup against Ballymena but this win keeps us in the hunt and that’s all you can ask at this stage of the season,” he added.