DERRY GAA: Oak Leaf U21s defeat Armagh to make Championship final

Derry Under 21 manager Fergal P McCusker.
Derry Under 21 manager Fergal P McCusker.
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Ulster Under-21 Championship Semi-Final

Derry 0-21, Armagh 1-15

Derry are in the Ulster Under 21 Championship final for the first time since 2008 after Danny Tallon inspired the Oak Leafers to a three point extra-time victory over Armagh in Celtic Park.

Fergal McCusker's side will now take on Championship favourites Donegal next Monday night after Declan Bonner's team over came Cavan by 13 points in the second semi-final.

At Celtic Park however, it was all about composure as Derry looked to have the game won in normal gtime before proving the strong outfit in the 20 minutes of extra-time.

It took Derry only 50 seconds to hit the front with a delightful Patrick Kearney point but there was never more than three points between the sides in a tight opening half which saw the visitors hit seven wides to Derry's two.

The impressive Oisin O'Neill scored his first of the match to level things before Peter Hagan and Danny Tallon gave Derry a two point lead their possession based game merited in the early stages.

However as the half developed, the Oak Leafers were guilty of carrying the ball into contact too often and Armagh began exposing them on the break as points from Caolan McConville and Shea Loye levelled matters.

That tit-for-tat scoring continued with Armagh full forward Jason Duffy seeing a 'goal' disallowed after hand-passing the ball to the net before points from Tallon, Kearney and the excellent Shane McGuigan had Derry leading 0-7 to 0-4 with 20 minutes gone.

It could have been even better for Derry had Callum O'Neill not produced a superb block on Jordan Curran's goal bound shot but Armagh replied through Rian and Oisin O'Neill to bring the deficit back to a single point at 0-7 to 0-6.

The second impressive Armagh block of the night then sent the Orchard County scampering forward for the 26th minute move that led to O'Neill's sweetly struck goal which sent his side into the break leading by 1-06 to 0-8.

Derry should've have hit the net within a minute of the restart when a flowing move ended with substitute Barry Grant shot beating the keeper but finding Aidan Rushe on the Armagh line to block brilliantly.

Derry's Jordan Curran managed a similarly superb black at the opposite end but mistakes were creeping in at both ends as Derry's Cathal Mulholland was back carded for hauling down Oisin O'Neill, Armagh's James McAlinden following him off on another black card for dragging Tallon down.

Derry levelled through two Shane McGuigan scores with Tallon then edging the home side in front before a wonderful O'Neill score four minutes into added time took the to extra-time.

Both sides had gone through a huge amount of work i normal time but it was Derry who proved stronger in the extra 20 minutes.

Hagan and Tallon got them off to the perfect start with two excellent scores before McGuigan took advantage of a foul on Doire Colmcille man Dean Curran to extend the lead to three.

Steven Morris pulled one back for the Orchard men but at 0-17 to 1-12 on the turnaround, Derry looked to have the momentum.

Dean Curran confirmed that theory upon the restart and while Armagh briefly threatened through two Callum O'neill points, thee unanswered scores from Tallon, Hagan and substitute Eamon McGill put the seal on an excellent night's work.

Derry: Ben McKinless; Conor McGrogan, Oisin Duffin, Niall Keenan; Cathal Mulholland, Michael McEvoy, Jordan Curran; Patrick Kearney (0-2), Jack Doherty; Patrick Coney, Danny Tallon (0-8, 5f), Peter Hagan (0-2); Shane McGuigan (0-6, 5f), Ruairi McElwee, Conor Doherty.

(Subs) Paul McNeill for C McGrogan (blood sub), 30mins; Tiernan Flanagan for R McElwee, H/T; Barry Grant for P Coney, H/T; Eamon McGill (0-1) for C Mulholland (Black Card) 45mins; Dean Curran (0-1) for B Grant, 57mins; Coalan Feeney for J Curran, H/T (e;t)

Armagh: Ryan Kearney; Phelim McArdle, Caolan McConville (0-1); Kieran Higgins, Barry McCambridge, Callum O'Neill (0-1); Ben Creely, Jack Rafferty; Paul Quinn, Oisin O'Neill (1-5, 2f), Cathal Boylan; Shea Loye (0-2, 2f), Jason Duffy, Rian O'Neill (0-2, 1f).

(Subs) James McAlinden for P McArdle, 39mins; Shea Hoey (0-1) for J Rafferty, 40mins; Ryan Owens for P Quinn, 47mins; Tom O'Kane (0-2) for S Loye, 48mins; Fergus Quinn for J McAlinden (Black Card), 52mins; Steven Morris (0-1) for C Boylan for 59mins; Jalath Og Burns for B Creely, 9mins (et); Miceal McNamee for J Duffy, 12mins (et);

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)