City of Derry coach McCarter expecting big test in Enniskillen

Ross McLaughlin's absence will likely see Simon Logue switch to full back against Enniskillen. (Photo: Keith Moore)
Ross McLaughlin's absence will likely see Simon Logue switch to full back against Enniskillen. (Photo: Keith Moore)

The Co. Fermanagh men are expected to be among the Ulster Championship One front-runners and underlined their pedigree with a seven-try, 52-10 away win at Carrick on opening day. That, however, was around the same time as Derry were running in six tries of their own against Ballynmoney to cement their impressive league start and McCarter believes his side have grown considerably since last season.

"I'm really looking forward to it," admitted the Derry coach, "I do still get nervous before big games like this but it's only because there's now an expectation and I said that to the boys last week. That's the difference between now and this time last year. There's a nervous excitement this year whereas last season there was an unknown, we didn't really know what kind of Derry were going to turn up.

"We've shown enough in the last couple of weeks to have confidence. For us now, it is about turning that 40 or 50 minutes into 80 or 90 minutes, depending on injury time. It's definitely a decent time to play them.

"This is the first major test I'd say of our season. I don't mean to sound disrespectful to Ballymoney but we could get away with having a reasonably poor opening 20 minutes and final 20 last week. We won't get away with that on Saturday."

David Lapsley's return is timely as a trip to the U.S. means McCarter will have to plan without the inform Ross McLaughlin for the next fortnight, while hooker Cathal Cregan is a doubt which could see a reshuffle in the pack against a team McCarter expect to be challenging for honours this season.

"Eniskillen are a side with confidence," he explained, "They like to throw the ball about and we have to be on our game for the full 80. That said, we know we can hurt them, and they know it as well.

"It's about doing the basics well, playing with tempo and doing all the things that we did really well last week, and trying to limit those periods in the game when we switch off a bit.

"I think they will be eyeing promotion. From speaking to their coach last season they were disappointed with their league form but they did really well in the other three cups and I think they fancy their chances this year, especially with Clogher Valley out of the way. They'll be one of the top teams we'll play, that's for sure but we knew that before this weekend."

This weekend represents another step up for a Derry team who have beaten Banbridge IIs and Ballymoney over the last two weeks and McCarter is keen to see his players embrace the challenge.

"I've been really pleased with how we have been building," said McCarter, "We had a good win at Banbridge; we upped it last week and this week is about going up another level or two.

"It's a nice situation to be in. I would imagine Enniskillen will be involved in the latter stages of most competitions this year just like they were last season. They have more experience in these competitions than us so it will be a good challenge for us to see where we are at."