MINOR CH’SHIP: Brilliant Derry Minors defeat Tyrone to make semi-finals

Padraig McGrogan of Derry in action against James McGurk of Tyrone during the Electric Ireland Ulster GAA Football Minor Championship, Quarter-Final, at Celtic Park, Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Padraig McGrogan of Derry in action against James McGurk of Tyrone during the Electric Ireland Ulster GAA Football Minor Championship, Quarter-Final, at Celtic Park, Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Derry 1-15, Tyrone0-09

Champions Derry progressed to the Ulster Minor Championship semi-final after a superb display against Tyrone in the Celtic Park on Sunday.

Damin McErlain’e team were in charge from early on against a Tyrone team many had billed as favourites before the game with the game won long before Conor McCluskey’s injury time goal sealed their place in the last four.

The first half was a surprisingly open affair with both enjoying periods of dominance and both missing clear goal chances.

From the throw in Damian MErlaine’s Derry went for the jugular with Swatragh midfielder Oisin McWilliams at the heart of everything. Early scores from McWilliams, Brian Cassidy and Larry Kielt had the home side 0-3 to no score up before Tyrone Matthew McGleenan grabbed his side’s first score six minutes in.

The worry for Derry at that point was the number of wides they were hitting with four inside the opening eight minutes and two efforts dropped short. They should haver been further ahead and passed up a glorious goal chances on nine minutes when Patrick Quigg burst on to Feargal Higgins’ pass to go clear. The odds were against Tyrone keeper Benny Gallen but he did well to advanced off his line and block Quigg’s low side footed finish.

But the Tyrone keeper wasn’t happy just to be keeping Derry’s tally to a minimum. Within a minute of his save, he was on the Derry ‘45 stroking over a lovely 45 which was added to by Tomas Carney’s free to bring the sides level at 0-3 a-piece.

A brilliant Paul Donaghy pass then set up Daniel Kerr to put Tyrone in front but Derry hit back immediately through that man McWilliams and led again thanks to Eoghan Bradley’s sublime point.

That point followed Tyrone’s best chance of the game. Emmet McNabb did well to gather possession and find Carney who was causing Derry all sorts of problems. The half-forward hit a fierce shot which Ben McKinless looked to get his finger tips to help it on to the inside of the post and away.

Two McNabb scores, one from a free, to edge Tyrone back in front but the home side responded with three points from Higgins, Padraig McGrogan and an Larry Kielt free before a late McGleenan point left Derry leaving by the minimum at 0-8 to 0-7.

Derry introduced Lorcan McWilliams at half-time and the young Swatragh forward injected pace into proceedings but only after James Devlin levelled inside 30 seconds.

Higgins and Carney swapped points but Kielt really should have hit the Tyrone net on 36 minutes when McWilliams’ delightfully disguised pass presented him with a clear shot on goal but he skewed his shot badly wide.

Derry continued to play to more coherent football and as the second half progressed, the began to take control. Kielt grabbed a point before McWilliams sold a couple of brilliant dummies and scored the point of the game for 0-11 to 0-9. That same duo repeated the feat for a four point lead with two minutes left and substitute Seamus Higgins from Dungiven made the game safe with a lovely solo run and point for 0-14 to 0-9 with Patrick Quigg’s late point merely rubber stamping the issue.

Yet there was still time for McCluskey to charge through and rub salt into the Tyrone wounds with a lovely low finish into the Tyrone net to wrap up an emphatic victory.

Derry: Ben McKinless; Conor McCluskey (1-0), Gearoid McLaughlin, Aaron Bradley; Padraig McGrogan (0-1), Shea Downey, Simon McErlain; Patrick Coney, Oisin McWilliams (0-2); Larry Kielt (0-4, 2f), Brian Cassidy (0-1), Patrick Quigg (0-1); Conor Doherty, Feargal Higgins (0-2), Eoghan Bradley (0-1). (Subs) Lorcan McWillians (0-2) for B Cassidy, H/T; Seamus Higgins (0-1) for L Kielt, 50mins; Odhran MCKeever for G McLaughlin, 60mins;

Tyrone: Benny Gallen (0-1, 1f); Tiarnan Hurl, Eoin Donnelly, James McGurk; Tiernan Corr, Conall Grimes, Peter Og McCartan; James Devlin (0-1), Cahir Goodwin; Branan Molloy, Tomas Carney (0-2, 1f), Paul Donaghy; Emmet McNabb (0-2, 1f), Matthew McGleenan (0-2), Daniel Kerr (0-2). (Subs) Damien McGuigan for J McGurk (blood sub) 45mins-reversed 49mins; Oran Sludden for B Molloy, 50mins; Brian McNulty for E Donnelly, 52mins;Ryan Gray for C Goodwin, 58mins;

Referee: Anthony Marine (Monaghan)