HURLING: Derry defeat Down to claim Ulster Under 21 title

Derry celebrate winning the Ulster Under 21 title along with their captain Ciaran Steele.
Derry celebrate winning the Ulster Under 21 title along with their captain Ciaran Steele.

Bord Gáis Ulster Under 21 Hurling Final

Derry 3-17, Down 1-09

A late two goal salvo in Corrigan Park, Belfast claimed secured Derry a first Ulster Under 21 Hurling title for Derry since 2008, Corey O'Reilly’s brace settling it for the Oak Leafers as Collie McGurk's revolution of Derry hurling gathers pace.

Derry’s win over Antrim in the semi-final two weeks ago made them slight favourites against a Down side that racked up 8-20 in their semi-final tussle with Armagh.

Both sides struggled in the early exchanges as a pre-match thunderstorm left under foot conditions very slippy and it wasn't until the third minute that the game had its first score and it was Down who took early control.

Ballygalgat's Cormac Coulter pointed a free and three minutes later Oisin McManus goaled to put the Mourne Men well in charge at 1-02 to no score.

Derry eventually settled and, led by Banagher's Darragh Cartin, were on level terms by the 12th minute at 0-05 to 1-02.

It was nip and tuck for the rest of the first half until the 27th minute when Brian Cassidy shock off the challenge of Down defender Paul McManus to blast past Huw Flynn in the Down goal for a half time lead of three points at Derry 1-08 Down 1-05.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first with Down on the offensive but Daithi Sands' effort flashed across the Derry goal and wide.

Cormac O'Doherty then landed a '6'5 from the next attack and from here on in, Down were left chasing the game.

Try as they did, but with McAlister and McGuigan dominating the midfield exchanges, and O'Doherty sweeping in front of the Derry full back line, McGurk’s charges were able to stretch out to a six point lead by the 54th minute.

Then came O'Reilly’s two goals in the space of a minute to wrap things up for the Oakleafers and set up an All Ireland semi-final tussle with Kilkenny.

Derry: Francis McEldowney, Seamus Higgins, Paddy Turner, Paul McNeil, Ruairi McCartney, Ciaran Steele 0-01 (capt), Shane McGuigan 0-01, Conor McAlister 0-01, John Mullan, Eamonn McGill, Sean Cassidy, Odhran McKeever 0-02, Darragh Cartin 0-06 3F, Cormac O'Doherty 0-03 1 ‘65', Brian Cassidy 1-02.

Subs: Corey O'Reilly 2-01 for John Mullan HT. Niall Smyth for Cormac O'Doherty 53mins. Priosias Burke for Odhran McKeever 55 mins Thomas Magee for Ciaran Steele 55 mins.

Down: Huw Flynn, Brook Byers, Darragh Mallon, Paul McManus, Mark Fisher 0-01, Eoin Coulter, Ryan Courtney 0-01 1 ‘65', Liam Savage, Jordan Doran, Barry Trainor 0-01, Daithi Sands 0-01, Ruairi Campbell, Oisin McManus 1-00, Pearse Óg McCrickard 0-01, Cormac Coulter 0-04 4F.

Subs: Oisin Duggan for Oisin McManus 58 mins. Niall Breen for Cormac Coulter 58mins.

Referee: Mr Colum Cunning (Antrim)