Derry make long awaited return to Judges Road

City of Derry’s new head coach Richard McCarter admits it’s going to be extra special for him and his players when they entertain Bangor tomorrow (KO 2.30pm).

City of Derry coach Richard McCarter.
City of Derry coach Richard McCarter.

The Judges Road men haven’t played a competitive home game for well over a year and McCarter, who is a former player and coach with the club, can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon’s encounter.

“I’m looking forward to it on a personal level, but the lads are obviously champing at the bit, as it has been well over a year and half since we played a competitive game at home, so yeah we are looking forward to it as we just can’t wait to get out there again,” he insisted.

“I’m trying to not think too much about it from that respect, there’s the usual sort of pressure and expectations that comes with the role, but at the end of the day we feel that we are quite well prepared and these next few weeks are about trying to build momentum for the All Ireland.

“Look, without thinking too deeply about it, we just want to go out and put in a performance and hopefully obviously be at the right end of the result.”

Last week, Derry lost 29-21 at Ballymena last weekend and McCarter is taking positives from that game, as they continue to build up to their All Ireland League campaign.

“We had a good work-out against Ballymena last week and now we have three homes games back to back, so yeah it’s three tough competitive matches but three big opportunities for us to build a bit of momentum and a bit of positivity so that we can try and hit the ground running for the start of October,” he added.

“It also gives us a chance to make a few changes, give players game time and sort of see who we can trust I suppose whenever it comes to the All Ireland games, see who is up to the challenge.

“With Ballymena being two leagues above us, we obviously still wanted to win, but it was more about the performance and on reflection we were disappointed to lose it because we felt they were there for the taking and a lack of a killer edge at times in the first half cost us, then in the second half we were disrupted a fair bit with injuries, but all in all we’ll take it because it was a positive and encouraging start, but we need to build on it this week

“Bangor are in our division so there’s not going to be as much wriggle room and if we were to lose on Saturday it would a different feeling.”

McCarter also concedes that tomorrow’s squad will be something similar to the one that played Ballymena last weekend, as a few players continue to carry some knocks and won’t be risked so early on in the season, but he’s also insists that he’s happy with his current squad.

“We have a few players who are still not just quite right and at this stage of the season we don’t want to mess about with them,” he said.

“Some boys have muscular injuries so we are better off giving them another week or two with a few that they would be fitter towards the All Ireland campaign, however with some boys out it will provide opportunities for others.

“There were a few guys who stepped up last week and they probably wouldn’t have been involved but for the injuries but the boys who came in showed up really well, so one person’s misfortune is another person’s gain as they say, so we are probably in a similar boat this week again but we are happy enough with the squad that is going to be taking to the field on Saturday.”