City of Derry entertain league leaders, Ballina

City of Derry's scrum half Simon Logue returns this weekend to face the league leaders Ballina at the Craig Thompson Stadium.
City of Derry's scrum half Simon Logue returns this weekend to face the league leaders Ballina at the Craig Thompson Stadium.

City of Derry backs coach Richard McCarter will know only what the AIL Division 2C shows him before his side greet table topping Ballina at the Craig Thompson Stadium at Judges Road this weekend.

In an age of over analysing, McCarter concedes he is in the dark about the Mayo men who arrive in Derry having lost only one of their eight AIL games this season .

Ballina currently lead Midleton, who defeated Derry last week, by two points in the table but that isn’t something that is worrying McCarter.

“I know nothing about them and sometimes I prefer that,” revealed the Derry coach, “Often, if you are studying teams and analysing them to death, and then they go out and do something different, you’re caught out preparing for a scenario that doesn’t exist.

“You end up focusing more on the opposition than you do your own game and building the opposition up as if they are the All Blacks.

“Even with Midleton last week, until three weeks ago, people were saying they were unbeatable but since then they have lost a couple and we got stuck into them and while we lost, we showed there was nothing to fear.

“They were a good team and Ballina will be another good team, but any side in this league is capable of beating any other.”

Simon Logue’s return this weekend will be a major boost although the continued absence of Conor McMenamin, who injured his shoulder playing for Ireland U19s is a frustration.

Last week’s 36-7 defeat was deceptive according to McCarter who said the young Derry team had acquitted themselves well in challenging circumstances.

“It doesn’t get any easier this week but at the same time, we have nothing to lose. We are probably not expected to win but we know that if we approach the game right, get our act together and are defensively solid, then we will cause them problems.

“Ballina beat Bangor narrowly at home last weekend and while I’m not one for reading too much into other team’s results, it shows how competitive every game is for every team.

“The scoreline completely flattered Midleton last week. They scored after a couple of minutes but we had quite a few changes in the first half and a bit of inaccuracy let us down at key moments.

“We were punished for our mistakes. It was very frustrating because we were well in the game right up until the final 10 minutes. They scored two tries in the last two minutes which put a real gloss on the score.

“We were proud of the effort from the boys, especially some of the inexperience lads we had with us. If you look at the bench we had, three of the players were making AIL debuts but we looked as if we had a bit more about us in terms of our attack.

“We just cannot afford to miss the sort of chances we did in the AIL or you will get punished and that’s what happened.”

Despite the frustrations of the coaching team, McCarter there has been enough in the last two Derry performnaces to offer encouragement.

“It is very frustrating at times but it’s also very encouraging. Midleton were one of the top two teams in the league but I don’t think we looked too far off them. In every game we have played this year, we’ve have been really competitive.

“It is now about turning the screw in terms of converting chances. Instead of coming away with nothing, we need at least a losing bonus point if we find ourselves in a position like last week.

“We are still playing within ourselves a bit. Confidence seems to be an issue still. We’re happy that we are moving in the right direction but it would be nice to turn some of those performances into victories.

“Last week was a bitter-sweet game. Considering to amount of pre-match issues we had in terms of injuries and getting boys to travel, we played really well at times but got nothing out of it.

“The scoreline was very disappointing because anyone from the outside looking in would think we were hammered but the game was nothing like that.

“The boys are happy if we, as coaches, are happy and we were quite satisfied with some parts of the performance but we need to start turning those positives into points.”