City of Derry coach Terry McMaster wary of Dungannon threat

City of Derry coach Terry McMaster
City of Derry coach Terry McMaster

It’s derby day in Division 2B as all four Ulster clubs clash, leaders City of Derry travel to Dungannon while Armagh host Rainey.

Derry have won their opening four games picking up three bonus points to open up a five point cushion at the top of the table and they ran Ballynahinch very close in the cup lastweek and coach Terry McMaster is happy with the start his side have made this season.

“We would have taken that at the start of the season but the challenge now is to keep the momentum going,

“Stevenson Park is another local derby but we have a full squad to pick from,” said McMaster.

Derry came close to pulling of a shock at Ballymacarn Park.

“To be 24-8 with 20 minutes to go up and lose in was disappointing.

“We want to judge ourselves against the best team in Ulster which is Ballynahinch as they are the only team in Division 1A and it was a good barometer for us.

“We rolled or bench on after 50 minutes and lost David Ferguson and John Burns two minutes later.

“We rested five front line players and played a lot of young boys so we were delighted to run them so close and it was a moral victory for us.”

Dungannon have won both home games this season and McMaster is expecting a tough battle.

“I never found Stevenson Park easy as a player. I’ve never found it easy as a coach and it won’t be easy this Saturday, it’s a derby and we know what it is going to be like.

“Andy Hughes and Seamus Mallon will have Gannon up for it and that is what happens when you make a good start - everybody wants to knock you off the top.

“David Funston and David Houston are back after missing Armagh and Hinch, I have no injury concerns and it will be a headache who to leave out.

“We have built a strong squad and there are no superstars but I think a few could play for Ulster A.

“We play for each other and for the club and there is a good spirit. There are a few boys that will be disappointed to be left out but in a hard 18 game season you have to rotate.”

The coach is happy with the way the club is progressing after last season’s relegation.

“We sat down at the end of the season and looked at the win and loss percentage and if we had of had the same in the first half of the season as we did in the second half we would have finished in the top four.

“We took the positives out of it and the boys never lost confidence. On Saturday we scored four tries against a division one side and we took the positives out of it and it let us know where we are.”

Dungannon are sixth, with two wins and two defeats but coach Andy Hughes has a long injury list to deal with.

“It’s going to be a tough ask, as we are still struggling with injury so we are having to call on all our resources,” said Hughes.

“Derry have come out of the blocks well, but it’s a home game for us so we have to come out and be positive and control the ball in the first half.”

Mark Faloon, Marcus Mulgrew, James McMahon, David Leaburn, Matty Montgomery and Ross McCaughey are all missing.

Paul Magee starts, while back row Robbie Anderson and utility back John Buckley are included in the squad.

Nichols Sterling returns for Rainey’s trip to the Palace Grounds, versatile back Josh McIlroy will also start.

Michael Pyper is available and Scott McLean is in contention for a starting place