Bruff is 'must win' admits City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter

AIL Division 2C: City of Derry v Bruff (Saturday, Judges Road, 2.30pm)

City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter. (Photo: George Sweeney)
City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Bottom of AIL Division 2C with five games to go, City of Derry Head Coach Richard McCarter says his team have entered ‘must win’ territory as they seek to avoid the two relegation play-off spots.

Without a win since defeating Omagh on December 11th, the Judges Road men have seen rivals Sunday’s Well and Clonmel leapfrog them in the table and create a four way fight to avoid the bottom two positions which bring an end of season two legged play-off to determine who drops into junior rugby.

The fourth team in that relegation scenario, Bruff, arrive on Foyleside this weekend for a game McCarter admits his side simply have to win to maintain hopes of climbing out of trouble.

“It is a game we simply have to win, there’s no other way of putting it,” spelt out the Derry Head Coach, “All the games are massive games, I say that every week, but this is one we just have to win. No matter what else we do we have to win against Bruff on Saturday. If we don’t we are in major trouble but I think everyone recognises that now.

“The table tells its own story but we have to remain upbeat and make sure everybody is up for it and hopefully, with it being a home game, it shouldn’t take too much to get the boys fired up.

“We have five games left including this Saturday and we’ve got to win our home games. That’s our starting point and then we have to pick up as many points as possible between bonus points or, if we lose we have to hang in there and get losing bonus points. It’s a massive five weeks for us.”

Derry go into Saturday’s crunch clash somewhat light up front and without the services of Stephen Corr, Eoin McDonald and Cathal Cregan against a team who defeated them 38-15 in the first meeting of the clubs back at the start of November. The Limerick side currently sit seventh on 20 points, five clear of Derry in 10th and McCarter knows Saturday will be as big a game for Bruff as it is for his own team, especially given the upturn in fortunes of both Clonmel and Sunday’s Well, the latter of whom have defeated the division’s top two, Skerries and Enniscorthy, in their last two games.

“The good things is that if we could get a win on Saturday and results went our way as well, it could see us jump a couple of places because things are still very tight in terms of the bottom four teams,” added McCarter, “There’s no doubt its going to be a four way fight to avoid two places.

“Midleton look to be too far away from it which leaves the four of us - ourselves, Clonmel, Sunday’s Well and Bruff - and I would say there will be a fair bit of chopping and changing over the next five games.”

Having conceded a try within two minutes of kick-off in three of their last four matches, McCarter says it’s imperative that Derry get their performance right from the first whistle this weekend and stressed he’s thinking no further ahead than Bruff.

“Bruff are five ahead of us at the minute so a win for us would bring them right back into it but a win for them, while not guaranteeing anything, it definitely pushes them a fair bit clear so they’ve huge motivation to come up and win and we have to get into them early.

“I can’t put my finger on why we’ve conceded so early so often recently because we make a point of mentioning it before every single game. I don’t know if it’s lack of concentration, bad luck or something else. Last Saturday we caught a difficult kick-off, the ball is passed back and then charged down twice in 30 seconds. Clonmel get possession and score a minute later with a hurricane behind us.

“It is frustrating and we have to really concentrate when we are receiving those first kick-offs so we take them and pin teams back better than we are at present.”