ALL IRELAND LEAGUE, DIVISION 2C
City of Derry 17, Enniscorthy 43
After the optimism of defeating Bangor, Enniscorthy provided a brutal reality check for City of Derry as the AIL Division 2C leaders ran in seven tries at Judges Road on Saturday.
Two late intercept tries as Derry chased a losing bonus point put a harsh gloss on the Wexford club's victory but the visitors fully deserved their victory after a controlled, athletic display which was helped in no small way by an error strewn performance by the home side.
With Bangor and Tullamore both winning, things have become extremely tight ahead of what now looks a huge trip to basement side, Midelton, for Derry next weekend when Paul O'Kane will be expecting to see a vast improvement.
The line-out remains top of O'Kane 'to do' list and it was the home side misfiring set-piece which set Enniscorthy on the way to victory at the Craig Thompson Stadium at Judges Road.
The visitors made a sprightly start but Derry had withstood the first wave and cleared their '22', winning a line-out 10m inside the home half. Yet, not for the first time this season, an overthrown Derry line-out proved their undoing as Enniscorthy gobbled up possession, shifted play right where a lightning break was ended by second row Tomas Stamp in the opposite corner. With out-half Ivan Poole converting, Enniscorthy were off and running.
Tiernan Thornton almost capitalised on a loose pass minutes later but he was unable to win the chase for his own kick through with Enniscorthy lucky to escape with what looked a deliberate knock-on in the phases that followed as Derry pressed.
It was an isolated break though and Enniscorthy's constant pressure was focing Derry into evasive action, action that referee Paul O'connor decided had stepped over the mark once too often when he yellow carded prop Sam Duffy on 21 minutes.
Three minutes later, the Wexford men had taken advantage with a superb move, instigated by a quick line-out that saw the ball moved through the hands of scrum-half Arthur Dunne and full-back Richard Dunne before winger Ivan Jacob finished for 0-14.
Nick Doyle looked to have their third but it was ruled out for a knock on as the big flanker tried to ground the ball as the half finished with Derry finally getting on the scoreboard thanks to Alex McDonnell injury time penalty which left it 3-14 at the interval.
The game's third try had a game-defining feel about it and unfortunately for Derry, Enniscorthy had it in the bag when hooker Davy Murphy forced his way over eight minutes into the second period.
That left it 3-19 but worse was to follow for the home team when Dara Gill became the second Derry player to see yellow, this time for a high challenge as Enniscorthy turned the screw.
And within two minutes of Gill's departure, Enniscorthy had their bonus point with Poole scoring and converting on 55 minutes for a commanding 3-26 lead.
Derry's character and spirit is often their strongest weapon and they refused to lie down, substitute David Ferguson instigated the fightback with a superb midfield break that took Derry deep inside the Enniscorthy '22'. he was eventually held but Derry kept coming and after washing up against the visitors' line time and again, the ball was switched right where McDonnell showed great feet to dance through the Enniscorthy defence and score under the posts.
His conversion made it 10-26 but any hope of a comeback was killed inside four minutes of McDonnell's try though when David O'Dwyer replied for 10-31.
The game was up but Derry still kept coming with a yellow card for Enniscorthy's Paddy Waters offering a glimmer of a hope of a losing bonus point.
That glimmer became bright target to aim at when Callum O'Hagan got in for another converted try with still seven minutes to play. At 17-31, one more converted try would take Derry into losing bonus point territory.
O'Kane's team threw everything at it but left them vulnerable with both Ben Kidd and Arthur Dunne taking advantage with late intercept tries.
The result leaves Derry second bottom in ninth but in a division where four points separate third sport from ninth, prospects change remarkably by the week and Derry will hope theirs take a turn for the better in seven days time.
City of Derry: Jimmy Hamilton, Ross Harkin, Sam Duffy, Gerard Doherty, Stephen Kelly, Quermy Warmerdam, Stephen Kelly, Tiernan Thornton, Stephen Corr, Michael Rankin, Alex McDonnell, Thomas Cole, David Lapsley, David Graham, Callum O'Hagan, Simon Logue. (Replacements) David Ferguson, Adam Marley, Dara Gill, Cain McColgan, Denis Posternak.
Enniscorthy RFC: Angelo Todisco, Davie Murphy, MJ Doyle, Tom Ryan, Tomas Stamp, Nick Doyle, Timmy Morrissey, Brian Bolger, Arthur Dunne, Ivan Poole, David O'Dwyer, Hughie O'Neill, Daniel Pim, Ivan Jacob, Richard Dunne. (Replacements) Andrew Redmond, Paddy Waters, Liam Stamp, Billy Wickham, Ben Kidd.
Referee: Paul O'Connor.