City of Derry coach McCarter says Omagh win worth more than points

City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter believes Saturday's crucial AIL victory over Omagh will be worth more than merely four points to his team.
City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter. (Photo: George Sweeney)City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter. (Photo: George Sweeney)
City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter. (Photo: George Sweeney)

After a difficult two weeks in which they suffered defeats to Midletown and Skerries, conceding 74 point in the process, Derry needed a response in their final AIl fixture of the year and McCarter's players delivered in style, holding their Ulster rivals scoreless as first half tries from Simon Logue and Davy Graham secured a morale boosting victory.

"We knew it was a big one because of the derby but also our league position," explained McCarter, "We needed to get points desperately, but what a performance from start to finish. Apart from a bit of a purple patch that Omagh had in the second half, we defended resolutely throughout and took our chances which we haven't always done in past games.

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"We knew Omagh would have to come out after us in the second half, it wasn't just a case of 17-0 and job done. We knew we would be under the pump but we defended brilliantly. We probably got off the hook with a couple of knock-ons but, no, our defence was superb and the attitude throughout the 80 minutes was brilliant.

"We have been guilty in previous matches of not taking our chances when they came around but today we took our chances and scored two good tries. The one Davy finished off in the corner was brilliant team play, we really sped up the play in the Omagh '22 which, again, we have been guilty of not doing at times this season. It was pleasing to see things like that come to fruition."

While the result wasn't enough to lift Derry up the Division 2C table, it means only four points now separate Derry from their Co. Tyrone rivals who sit in sixth and whom Derry face again on January 15th when the AIL resumes following its winter break.

"It is a big win in terms of the league table but it's a bigger win for us in terms of our confidence," added McCarter, "The nil that we got against Omagh was just as important as the 20 points. I would have said we were a bit mentally soft at times over the last couple of weeks. We had conceded 70 odd points in the last couple of games but to 'nil' that Omagh team was very good going.

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"At times the boys have maybe lacked a bit of confidence about how good they can be and how high their ceiling is. Today will definitely give us confidence in terms of our attack and defence."

Saturday saw another impressive display from Derry out-half Alex McDonnell who kicked 10 of Derry's 20 points in a win that was all the more remarkable considering Derry lost the services of both try scorers to injury for the second half.

"Alex sets the tone with his tackles. Down in Skerries last week, a match that didn't go well for us, Alex must have had the top tackle count and that sets the tone for everyone else but his game management is starting to improve now and he is an absolute warrior for us.

"And you've got your two try scorers, two of our most experienced, better players, both off within minutes of the second half so it's a big ask for the rest of the boys but that's where our mentality really showed up today."

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Those injuries to Logue (knee) and Graham (hamstring) were the only downside to a fantastic afternoon for Derry and as the season reached its halfway point, McCarter said there was every reason for optimism ahead of the New Year.

"We know we've came up short in a few matches but we've played everyone now and we know what we have to do in the second half of the season," said McCarter, "It's about building momentum and consistency in our play which hopefully, if we keep everyone fit, we will be able to do.

"I think we could have done better if you looked back at the games individually but considering everything we have been through we are not in a bad position and it is important we kick on."