Ballymena too strong for Derry
By Louis Fields
City of Derry U14 Match Report
City of Derry U14 Match Report
(vs Ballymena, 3/11/18)
Ballymena U14s 52 – 0 City of Derry U14s
The young men in Green and Black made the trek to Ballymena this weekend in hopes of redeeming what was a disappointing week prior when they played at home against a strong Rainey team. Unfortunately, for all sides, this never came to fruition. What was clearly a very well stocked Ballymena U14's team, they boasted over 25 players who all came out to train before the match in hopes of being selected, included several uncapped players, with every individual showing a determination and discipline to play that day which is often lacking from other sides. This was further aided by the large group of support they had on the sidelines watching. Derry are still short of their backs Biernat and McCann, both out for several weeks due to injury.
The match began with a fine display of the much-improved Derry defence compared to their season’s beginning matches, an element which they have been taking account of in recent encounters and working on to improve during the week. While this defence held up well, the mounting pressure continued to build up over time, with Ballymena keeping possession for much of the opening portion. The home team showed great ability to set up their next play in great time, which would have bested Derry any other time, however over time cracks began to show as Derry took their time to reset after each phase, and with wide spaces gorging in open play this allowed Ballymena players to zig-zag their way through. The opposition broke through with runs thick and fast, and regardless of the strong efforts of Quigley, Craig, Roarty, and C. Kelly in the chase to make try-saving tackles, this was too much to keep up with as the dominant Ballymena eventually crossed the line for the first time.
Many of Derry’s players showing a lack of confidence in committing to the tackle highlights fundament issues in their game in these instances. While the first conversion was missed, the three following within the first half were all successful, as the game unfolded much in the same way. One try attempt was thwarted by the ever-ready Jennings, who was spectacularly able to make himself present under the ball as it ventured down to the try area. Any sign of Derry ball was turned over as quickly as it was gained, as supporting players for the possessive player were not present when needed.
The second portion unfolded much as the first did, however Ballymena were able to break through a weakened and fatigued Derry much more quickly in. With the wind now in their favour, Derry were able to take advantage by kicking to gain yards, however this proved almost the only time they were able move their way down the pitch as they very rarely came within a sniff of touching down to put points on the board. Injuries were taken to Jennings and Clarke, whose games were cut short, causing players to again move out of position to fill in. By doubling their points in the second half by replicating their scoring from the first half, Ballymena widened the gap in an irreversible way, causing the referee to blow the whistle early.
While the scoreboard displays a disappointing result, the boys made a valiant effort against what they knew would be a very strong team. However, as with last week, this scores does prove to be an improvement on last year’s match. However, they must take note of what they have learned, and work harder than before in training to improve.