City of Derry Rugby Club did everything asked of them and more in their final All-Ireland League fixture of the season but were still relegated as results elsewhere conspired against them.
The Judges Road men travelled to South Dublin on Saturday to play Seapoint in their last match. The objective was to defeat the home team and score four tries in the process to have any chance of remaining in the third tear of AIL rugby next season by finishing in the top ten in AIL Division 2A. Derry did everything required of them and more on the day by scoring five tries and winning but with other results going against them especially Blackrock drawing with UCC in Cork.
They finished in twelfth position in the table just a single point behind UCC in tenth position, that is how close it was with Derry having a better point difference than the Cork men.
The game started with a strong cold breeze blowing down from the Sugarloaf Mountains straight across the pitch with no advantage to either team throughout. The pitch was rock hard and any ball that went to ground was bouncing all over the place so possession was precious. There was a nervous eagerness to Derry’s play early on as they threw everything at the Dubliners and encamped inside their 22.
Seapoint eventually played themselves back into the game with some decent possession and suddenly produced a score out of nothing on twenty four minutes to shock the Derry team and the massive travelling support.
Seapoint moved the ball up the right wing and their out half Jake Kelly made a great break and passed to Captain and wing forward Stephen Verso who touched down for an unconverted try in the corner and the Dubliners were in front by five points to nil.
This shock score produced an immediate response from Derry, Richard McCarter kicked a penalty into the corner for a five meter linout. David Houston touched down for an unconverted try and it was five points all.
Richard Baird touched down between the posts for a try and when McCarter converted, Derry were leading 12-5 at half time.
A captain’s try from David Funston on twenty minutes later relieved the mounting pressure on Derry to score. McKillop touched down for the bonus point try to the relief of Derry and a 22pts to 12pts lead.
The game was over as a contest and all the Seapoint fire was extinguished as they kicked off. Derry ran the ball straight back at them and Stuart Simpson touched down to round off a great personal performance.