Omagh claim AIL bragging rights at City of Derry
All Ireland League Division 2C
City of Derry 10, Omagh 19
Omagh inflicted a first home All Ireland League Division 2C defeat of the season on a City of Derry team that appeared to be still feeling the effects of last week's second half collapse in Bangor.
A tense, tight game in difficult, blustery conditions only came to life after the break as Omagh took advantage of some indecision and loose passing to run in three tries and secure a victory they fully deserved.
The win takes the Co. Tyrone men five points clear of Paul O'Kane's team who remain in sixth position and in a division where only 15 points separate top from bottom, it could prove an invaluable four points.
A frustrating end to a frustrating week for the Derry Head Coach, Paul O'Kane. His pre-match preparations weren't helped by a late night Thursday call-up to the Ireland Under 19 training squad for Conor McMenamin whom O'Kane would have had pencilled in to play a key role in the game.
That was unfortunate but losing three players to injury in little more than half hour was just bad luck!
Simon Logue, the man who so often proves the Derry key to unlocking opposing defences, hobbled off on 17 minutes and while he did bravely re-emerge for the second half, he never quite looked fully fit thereafter.
Richard Baird was the next name on the casualty list seven minutes later, injuring his ankle after taking contact in the jump at a line-out.
Winger Callum O'Hagan was next off the pitch after receiving a nasty looking head injury and at that point, O'Kane must have been wondering if he would have enough players to see the game out.
The injuries peppered an opening half in which both sides had chances but defences were well on top. The Derry defence was typified by one huge Stephen Corr tackle that stopped Stephen MacLaine from getting in at the corner.
Derry's best chance came in first half stoppage time, full-back Thomas Cole - who was impressive throughout - breaking the Omagh defensive line before Davy Ferguson took it on but the home side were stopped metres short.
Omagh eventually regained possession with the returning Richard McCarter, who was starting his first game of the season, forced to check the kick and chase out of defence which brought him a yellow card leaving Derry a man short for the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
And Omagh made them pay.
Within five minutes of the restart Luke Hanson was in for a try after Davy Graham had coughed up possession in a tackle on half-way. Quick as a flash, the ball was switched left with Hanson spotting the vacant gap in Derry's backline to run in a lovely score which MacLaine converted.
Derry's response was superb. Despite being a man short, the home side forced the visitors backwards, winning a scrum 10m from the Omagh line. The ensuing scrum saw Derry send their Omagh counterparts backwards at a rate of knots with Stevey Corr applying the finishing touch for 5-7.
Omagh's Matthew Eccles was unlucky on two occasions to fumble a final pass that would have taken him clear but Omagh didn't have to wait long to stretch their lead.
Scott Elliott was the instigator, feeding Eccles who took his team to the line before handing it on a plate to Adam Longwell to finish off. With Elliott then converting, Omagh had taken control at 5-14.
Eccles finally got the try his performance deserved when a huge 'miss' pass took out most of the home defence to provide him the opportunity to jink his way to the line in emphatic fashion.
Fourteen points down, Derry finally came to the party. First, a superb Johnny Lyons break almost put Logue in at the corner but the scrum-half was held up inches short.
The pressure was building and when David Graham a superb break and off-loaded brilliantly, it provided David Jackson with a try on his AIL debut.
With five minutes left, there was still time for Derry to at least salvage a bonus point and they almost did when a lovely move saw Craig Huey fail to hold a pass that would have put him in to score.
It summed up Derry's performance on a day Omagh deservedly took the plaudits.
City of Derry: Jimmy Hamilton, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, Adam Bratton, Gerard Doherty, Richard Baird, Craig Huey, Stephen Corr, Simon Logue, Richard McCarter, David Jackson, James Perry, David Graham, Callum O'Hagan, Thomas Cole.
(Replacements) Cathal Cregan, Ben Pollin, Johnny Lyons, Dennis Posternak, Philip Duffy.
Omagh: Kyle Alexander, Richard Hempill, Peter Todd, Johnny Sproule, Kaine Holden, Mervyn Edgar, Stewart Allen, Adam Longwell, Stewart McCain, Stuart Balantine, Matthew Eccles, Luke Hanson, Scott Barr, Neil Brown.
(Replacements) Richard Smyth, Philip Ewing, Matthew Clyde, Ryan Mitchell, Scott Elliott.
Referee: Colm Roche