No excuses but O'Kane wants City of Derry reaction in Midleton

City of Derry Head coach Paul O'Kane is hoping his side can bounce back from Saturday's disappointing defeat to AIL 2C leaders, Enniscorthy, when they travel to Cork next week to take on basement side, Midleton.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 8:48 pm
City of Derry will be without Stephen Corr for next week's trip to Midleton.

O'Kane was in no mood to offer excuses for a below par performance from his side which allowed the Wexford club to run in seven tries in a one sided encounter at Judges Road on Saturday. The 17-43 defeat, coupled with victories for Tullamore and Bangor, means only four points separate third place in the table from Derry's new position of ninth but almost every week represents a chance to jump several places in AIL 2C.

That means there is no time to dwelling on defeat and O'Kane wants to see a reaction from his players.

"It was a difficult day and probably a stark reality check as to where we are at," admitted O'Kane after the Enniscorthy defeat, "They punish you for making mistakes and we gave them any amount of mistakes to punish.

"We were bang average. Probably not even average. Maybe we got a bit ahead of ourselves after a good, solid performance last week against Bangor. The reality is we weren't good enough in any area.

"Next week now becomes even bigger now. I don't think we are 40 points worse than Enniscorthy but with that lack of accuracy, we just kept getting caught and rugby can be a cruel sport as regards the score getting inflated pretty quickly.

"All roads lead to Midleton now. We have to take this on the chin and come back stronger for it."

Not for the first time this season, problems in the line-out meant Derry were playing catch-up from early in Saturday's game as an over-throw on a home throw sent Enniscorthy away for their opening try on three minutes, something that isn't lost on the Derry coach.

"That's maybe seven or eight tries we have conceded this year from overthrown line-outs at the start of game, the opposition have pounced on it, couple of shifts and they are over in the other corner. On-field decision making needs to be looked at. It has cost us and today is not the first time it has cost us.

"We know we have problems with our line-out and we are trying to make it better. The boys are working hard on it to be fair, but some of it is down to personnel. I am not sure how you find five or six lads who are six foot six, athletically built and very good in air all in the one town ready to play rugby.

"You don't come up against too many teams that are the shape of a team from a much higher grade in the way Enniscorthy are and they play good rugby. Again, we made too many errors and you cannot expect to be in a game when you make that many errors, when your line-out isn't functioning and you come out the wrong side of the penalty count as well."

Despite a poor first half, Derry only trailed 14-3 at the break but it took only eight minutes of the second half for Ennscorthy to grab a third from which there was no way back for O'Kane's team.

"The third try was the big one and we talked about it at half-time. Bar the last few minutes of the first half we were awful. We were awful from the start of the game, we gave them the space they needed. We were completely blown away at the breakdown, their physicality and cleans outs were excellent but even our body height going into contact was poor.

"The only positives we could take from the game was there was a real endeavour from the boys to keep trying right to the end which is why we got picked off for those last two scores.

"They are a good side and we are under no illusions. Maybe we got ahead of ourselves but we were looking forward to the game, welcoming the team top of the league for a home fixture. We genuinely believed we could give them a real crack and we just didn't turn up.

"We weren't athletic enough to match them up front. There was no lack of effort from our boys, a lack of accuracy is probably the best way of putting it on most things we did. We got physically dominated at the break down, totally dominated. if you are not getting clean ball you are not going to be able to get any forward momentum.

"I've said to the lads we are not there yet and this reminds us of that. We have to dust ourselves down and next week becomes the bigger game," he added.