Marksman Niall Loughlin inspires Derry to success
Derry0-16 Antrim 0-11
A Virtuoso free-taking display by Niall Loughlin was the highlight of Derry's five point win over Antrim in the Ulster U21 preliminary round at Celtic Park.
The Greenlough sharpshooter finished with nine points, which included four monster '45s, to see the Oak Leaf County proceed to the first round next Wednesday against Donegal in Ballybofey.
A comfortable 0-12 to 0-03 half-time lead suggested this was going to be a gentle baptism for the home side in this year's Ulster Championship but a much improved Antrim after the break outscored Derry but had left themselves too much to do.
Derry stormed to an early 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes, with Peter Hagan, Aidan Keenan, Niall Toner and that man Loughlin all raising the white flag.
Midfielder Meehaul McGrath and two from young Jamie Donaghy were the prelude to two more huge frees from Loughlin as Fergal McCusker's team sparkled amidst the driving rain.
The home side really should have put the game to bed when Niall Toner was brought down in the box in the 28th minute. However the Lavey marksman's resulting penalty was well saved by Ronan Hanna, who dived low to his left to deny Derry a goal.
Two clinker '45s from Loughlin stretched Derry's lead to 0-14 to 0-3 shortly after the restart.
Derry only occasionally flickered into life in the second half, and when half forward Donaghy nipped through on goal in the 41st minute, Hanna was again out quick to pull off another agile save.
Subs Ben Rice and Ryan McNulty pointed for Antrim as Derry took the foot off the pedal.
However, time ran out on Sean McGoldrick's team.
DERRY: Ciaran McCloy, Niall Keenan, Tomas McCrossan, Oisin Hegarty, Jason Rocks, Michael McEvoy, Peter Hagan (0-2), Jarlath Bradley, Meehaul McGrath (0-1), Danny Tallon, Terence O'Brien, Jamie Donaghy (0-2), Niall Toner (0-1), Niall Loughlin (0-9f), Aidan Keenan (0-1). Subs: Oisin Duffy for P Hagan (50), Ruairi McElwee for N Toner (57), Dean Curran for Terrence O'Brien (64), Conor Convery for A Keenan (66)
ANTRIM: Ronan Hanna, Ronan Delargy, Oisin Hamill, Gerard McCorley, James McAuley, Peter Healy, Ross Hannigan, Oisin Leneghan (0-1), Ciaran Loney, Ruairi Scott, Ruairi McCann (0-1), Seamus McGarry (0-2), Odhran Eastwood (0-4f), Domhnall Nugent, Conor Small. Subs: Ryan McNulty (0-1) for C Loney (38), Conan Lyttle for R Hannigan (38), Ben Rice (0-1)for R Scott (58), Joe Maskey for R McNulty (67)
Referee: Shaun McLaughlin (Donegal).