City of Derry appoint O’Kane as Will resigns

Paddy Blenerhassett of City of Derry gets the back away under pressure against Sundays Well in the Ulster Bank All Ireland Div 2B match at Judges Road.
Paddy Blenerhassett of City of Derry gets the back away under pressure against Sundays Well in the Ulster Bank All Ireland Div 2B match at Judges Road.

Paul O’Kane has been confirmed as the new Director of Rugby at City of Derry.

The Derry City native, who led Limavady to the Gordon West Cup following an eight try, 46-8 victory over Larne in 2-15, has been Head Coach at Strabane over the past two seasons.

His appointment was ratified at a committee meeting on Monday night. He will be charged with trying to revitalise the Judges Road club after a difficult season which has seen the club relegated from All Ireland League Division 2B.
O’Kane’s appointment is part of an overall restructuring of the club that has prompted Head Coach, Trevor Will, to hand in his resignation with backs coach Richard McCarter in charge for Derry’s final All Ireland League Division 2B game of the season at home to Wanderers this weekend.
Welcoming the appointment, City of Derry Chairman, Tom Frawley, said O’Kane’s vast experience within the game locally made him the perfect candidate to oversee the rebuilding job at the Craig Thompson Stadium.

“It is no secret it has been a difficult season for the club but we are delighted with the appointment of Paul,” said Mr Frawley.

“He has an impressive track record and is full of potential and enthusiasm which will be vital ingredients as we try to turn the club’s fortunes around next season. The appointment is part of an overall restructuring of the club for next season.”

O’Kane’s appointment is with one eye on the future but Derry still have an AIL season to conclude with Saturday’s final game of the season at home to Wanderers.

“We had looked at the last three fixtures of the season and thought we were capable of winning them all and with a bit of luck we might have got something from the Sunday’s Well game,” said McCarter who will remain backs coach for the 2018 season.

“Last week we were really in the game for 60-65 minutes but fell apart for the last 20 so Saturday is our last chance to get a win on board before the end of the season.

“Hopefully it is a nice day and there is a decent crowd out. We have absolutely nothing to lose but we want to put a bit of pressure on ourselves to get four or five points on the last day.”

With the exception of Simon Logue, McCarter should have a relatively full squad to select from and with their fate already sealed regarding relegation, the Derry coach wants his players to go out and play with some freedom.

“It is a bit of a ‘free’ game but we have been playing pressure free as regards our league position for a long time, “ her added.

“We have only had pride to play for over recent weeks but we really owe it to ourselves to go out and get some sort of result because none of us want to be remembered for one of the worst season in the club’s history.

“We want to instil a bit of positivity going into the off season. Obviously with the changes to the structure of the club, we want people to be enthusiastic about what is going to happen going forward.

“We want guys to be motivated to improve things for next season because although Division 2C will be a very competitive league, I think we have a good opportunity now, if we can get some players in, to see where we can go.

“It is not necessarily about bouncing straight back up - we may have to consolidate for a year or two but we need to let the club grow in confidence again and get the buzz back.”