Oak Leafs set for bright future as they put Red Hands to the sword
Derry 1-15 Tyrone 0-10
The future of Derry football is in competent hands if the performance of the Oak Leaf representatives in this high-octane Ulster minor football championship clash at Celtic Park yesterday is to be taken as a gauge.
Damien McErlain's side merged style, cohesion and a strong work-ethic to leave the Red Hands on their knees at the finish.
But the Derry boss has already made it clear that bigger tasks lie ahead.
"Any day you win a championship match at any level is a good day and we will happily take this win," declared McErlain. "But we know that there are extremely difficult tasks ahead. I thought the team flourished as a unit on this occasion but there are always areas we can improve."
They may have surrendered the initiative to Tyrone for spells but Derry always appeared to have something in reserve - literally and metaphorically.
When Seamus Higgins and Lorcan McWilliams were sprung from the bench after the break, they not only steadied the Derry ship but forced Tyrone into turbulent waters where they remained for the rest of the game.
Derry's lively start brought quick-fire points from Oisin McWilliams, Brian Cassidy and Larry Kielt although Tyrone responded with interest.
With Thomas Carney and Paul Donaghy enterprising up front, Matthew McGleenan, Benny Gallen, Daniel Kerr and Carney eased the visitors into a 0-4 to 0-3 interval lead.
From then until half-time it was nip and tuck, Tyrone's more economical style proving fruitful while Derry, despite some erratic shooting, still managed to keep their noses in the front at the break at 0-8 to 0-7, McWilliams and Kielt in the vanguard of their scoring mechanism.
Yet even though Tyrone hinted at taking control in the early stages of the second-half when skipper James Devlin and Carney fired over points, this was as good as it got for them.
Derry were the dominant force in the last quarter, scoring 1-6 in contrast to the solitary point their opponents landed.
A brace of points each from Lorcan McWilliams and Kielt hoisted the home side into a 0-13 to 0-9 lead and although Kerry provided a sliver of hope for the Red Hands when he landed a point, this proved the signal for Derry to engage overdrive. Seamus Higgins thundered through for a point, Patrick Quigg pirated a score and Conor McCluskey put the icing on the cake when he galloped through in the last minute to slide in the only goal of the game.
TYRONE: B Gallen 0-1 (f); T Hurl, E Donnelly, J McGurk; T Corr, C Grimes, P Og McCartan; J Devlin 0-1, C Goodwin; B Molloy, T Carney 0-2, P Donaghy; E McNabb 0-2, M McGleenan 0-2, D Kerr 0-2. Subs: O Sludden for Molloy (50), McNulty for Donnelly (53), R Gray for Goodwin (59). Yellow card: Goodwin (34)
Derry: B McKinless; C McCluskey 1-0, T Hurl, G McLaughlin, A Bradley; P McGrogan 0-1, S Downey, S McErlain; P Coney, O McWilliams 0-2; L Kielt 0-4, B Cassidy 0-1, P Quigg 0-1; C Doherty, F Higgins 0-2, E Bradley 0-1. Subs: L McWilliams 0-2 for Cassidy (h/t), S Higgins 0-1 for Kielt (50), O McKeever for McLaughlin (60). ellow cards: Cassidy (27), McWlliams (53).
Referee: Anthony Marron (Monaghan)