LIKE a commanding officer readying his troops for battle, Omagh Accies coach Phil Marshall is demanding that his charges prepare for ‘war’ ahead of Thomond’s second visit to the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields on Saturday.
The sides who finished second and third in the final Ulster Bank League 2C standings will meet in the play-off semi-finals in two days time, while Malahide travel to Belfast Harleqins in the other fixture.
And having played each other twice this term, the Accies coach knows what to expect from a team they beat 39-32 away from home before producing an abject display during a 10-6 home reverse in January.
And it’s that defeat to Thomond that Marshall particularly wants to avenge during an encounter, this coming Saturday, that he expects to be a dog fight.
“We have massive respect for Thommond, they have some great players, they are a dogged team and they have demonstrated that they are a team who don’t lie down, they don’t know when they are beaten and who are determined to get something out of every game,” he observed.
“It’s going to be an 80 minute war, so I’ll be asking the players ‘are you ready to go to war?’ because I know I am!
“I’d demand a far better performance [than January], a better organised performance from us. We know we let ourselves down that day.”
The Accies went into last Saturday’s final round of fixtures at home against Bruff in fourth place, hoping to retain their play-off spot. On the day, Sligo thumped 14-man Thomond 37-0 to win the title, the Accies won to replace Thomond in second place and Malahide were held to a 22-22 draw with bottom side Bective Rangers to finish fourth.
The rollercoaster end to the season was in keeping with the unpredictable nature of the entire campaign, but Marshall believes their final position of second place is just reward for his players’ efforts this year.
“The boys deserve to be where they are, they have played good rugby this year and have had to learn and adapt quickly to different styles, which has been a highlight of this team,” he beamed.
“It’s great to be in this position. We’ve only been promoted and we’re in the play-offs with an outside chance of promotion. You couldn’t beat that!
Omagh’s play-off clash with Thomond kicks-off at 2.30pm on Saturday and should they win they will take on either Belfast Harlequins or Malahide in the final the following week.