Belfast Telegraph

Derriaghy's unbeaten season in good hands

By Martin Mawhinney

Derriaghy CC player-manager Marc Robinson is warning his players against looking too far into the future as they continue their crusade to their first ever promotion into the Amateur League Premier Division.

With just 11 games to go, the Seycon Park men can be virtually be assured of reaching their target with wins in little more than half of those games, and are currently four points ahead of second-placed Crumlin United in Division 1A, with five games in hand.

It has been an incredible season so far for the only team in the Amateur League’s top seven divisions not to have lost a league game in the campaign to date, and is taking nothing for granted.

A narrow 1-0 home win against Wellington Rec – the second bottom team in the division – was surely evidence enough that he is entirely justified in his stance. The crucial goal arrived from Marty Verner after 30 minutes, keeping Derriaghy ahead of the chasing pack at this crucial stage of the season.

Robinson said: “People outside of Derriaghy have been talking about us for the title, but our main aim has always been to get promoted. We are only just past the halfway point in our season, and for us, it is just a case of taking it one game at a time.

“We only won 1-0 at the weekend, but if we could have another 11 of those before the end of the season, I’d take them all day long! Having said that, it can be frustrating to watch, as I know what we are capable of.

“The thing is that we have been creating a lot of chances, but just not taking them. One of these days, we are going to take them all against some team. We look comfortable at the back, too, but it only takes one slip-up to change a game.”

As the goalkeeper, Robinson has a unique view on how the club’s back line is performing on a regular basis.

And while many player managers eventually choose to hang up their boots to help them focus on their role from the sidelines, the former Loughgall shot-stopper insists there is no prospect of that any time soon.

“I’m 34 and I still feel on top of my game,” he stated. “If I get to the stage where I’m not feeling that way, then maybe one day that might change, but that’s not in my head at the minute.

“I do get the odd injury now and again, but I want to keep pushing on. The goalkeeping bit is the main thing I enjoy, although I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed the management side of things. I suppose that’s always easier when you’re winning.”

Robinson will be eager for Derriaghy to continue that winning form in the Clarence Cup fourth against Basement – the Division 2C leaders, who have only lost one league game all season – and in forthcoming six-pointers against Downpatrick and Immaculata – two of the clubs with a hope of catching them.  

Meanwhile, in the Premier Division, Nortel sent out a clear statement of title-pushing intent with a 3-2 win away to regular contenders Albert Foundry. However, a 2-1 victory for Drumaness Mills over Ardglass and a 5-2 triumph for Ards Rangers over Dromara Village have kept the chasing pack within reach.

Dromara Village’s defeat means their relegation to next season’s Division 1A is sealed, while a 2-0 loss for Dunmurry Rec at Shankill United has pushed them closer to the dreaded drop, too.

Islandmagee are not yet in the clear for a bottom-two finish, but their 3-0 victory over Killyleagh has been a timely boost to their survival hopes.

In the other fixtures, Crumlin Star and Kilmore Rec battled out a goalless draw, while there were three goals apiece between Malachians and Comber Rec.

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