City of Derry must go on the offensive against Clonmel says Head Coach Richard McCarter
AIL Division 2C: City of Derry v Clonmel (Saturday, Judges Rd, 2.30pm)
City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter wants his side to go on the offensive as the crucial Christmas run in of fixtures begins with the visit of Clonmel to Judges Road this Saturday.
The Tipperary men sit one place below Derry at ninth in All Ireland League Division 2C with only eight points separating the sides from fifth to 10th in the table ahead of a run of games that will take the sides up to the halfway point in the season.
The Autumn internationals meant a rest week for Derry last week, not ideal after a bruising 38-15 defeat at Bruff in their last outing but McCarter says it has made his players hungrier than ever to set the record straight.
“That’s why I found Bruff so disappointing, because we had been building,” explained McCarter, “Even though results hadn’t necessarily gone our way over the previous couple of weeks, we had been performing pretty well but down in Bruff, individually and collectively, we just weren’t at the races.
“We let them score very easily against us through silly individual mistakes, cheap penalties; we went from one ‘22’ to the other and they were very clinical at taking their opportunities. The week’s break was probably bad timing from that point of view because you are just dying to get back at it again.
“I suppose it gave us a chance to reflect on things but it has made us even more hungrier for this weekend because we are chomping at the bit to get back out and try to return to winning ways.
“We didn’t turn into a bad team overnight against Bruff but it only takes a few boys not to be on form for it to make a massive difference in this division.
“It sounds really obvious but if everyone isn’t performing you can let any side cause you a threat and that’s the difficulty with this division in particular, anybody can beat anybody on their day so we have to make sure that we get our side of things right and don’t let Clonmel have a sniff.”
There is positive news on the playing front though with both Simon Logue and Stephen Corr back to bolster the Derry panel. Indeed, only the long term casualties like Davy Graham remain sidelined and McCarter says he is happy to finally have a few selection dilemmas to deal with.
“Apart from the lads with long term injuries we shouldn’t be too far off full strength for the Clonmel game which is a real positive,” added the Derry Head Coach, “Logie (Simon Logue) and Corrsy are both available again which is a boost. It means there should be a few tough selection decisions ahead of the game.
“At the start of the season it was just about getting 15 or 20 fit and available bodies but now myself and Coops (Chris Cooper) are actually having to look at different combinations and there are a few very tough calls to be made this weekend which is a welcome change as it lifts everyone’s levels.
“That is a positive but it’s always disappointing for those not involved. We’ve always been craving a squad with competition and that strength in depth so hopefully we can keep that going now until the end of this block of fixtures and then into the new year.”
Clonmel have yet to win but two draws from their five fixtures to date shows they have been competitive and McCarter certainly won’t be underestimating Saturday’s visitors even if he wants his players’ focus to be on their own performance.
“I watched the game they played against Bangor toward the start of the season but to be honest I don’t even want to think too much about Clonmel, I just think it is about us.
“Most of the teams in this league are pretty similar in that if you catch them on a good day they are very tough to beat and can pose a real threat but that’s what we have to be, we have to be at our best.
“We’ve got to be clinical, we’ve got to be up for it, we have to really attack from the first minutes and not wait 25 minutes to realise the opposition are beatable. We certainly won’t underestimate Clonmel but if we can get it right, it is a game that is there for the taking.”