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Tantalising Tyrone are now looking the part

Derry 0-12 - Tyrone 3-14

By Declan Bogue

Published 23/05/2016

Arm’s length: Derry’s Gareth McKinless holds off the challenge of Connor McAliskey of Tyrone
Arm’s length: Derry’s Gareth McKinless holds off the challenge of Connor McAliskey of Tyrone

Mickey Harte took charge of his first Tyrone team 25 years ago, and told his minors to report for duty in a white shirt and tie. His senior side arrived in Derry yesterday dressed in brown suede shoes, blue chinos and white shirts.

Looking professional, they delivered a professional performance in burying the Oak Leafs 3-14 to 0-12 in the Ulster Championship quarter-final.

The favourites were so far in front by half-time that spiritually they were on the bus home. The second-half here for Tyrone was just a matter of housekeeping and getting out of Celtic Park with no injuries after a three-goal blitz in the opening half.

Coming into this game, there were doubts about the Red Hands' inability to score goals, having only gathered three from play in their seven Championship games in 2015.

It took eight minutes for their first of the 2016 edition to arrive and it showcased all that is impressive about Harte's team this season.

Derry full-back Brendan Rogers was caught on the fringes of the Red Hands' defensive trap. Richie Donnelly chipped the broken ball to Mark Bradley, who carried it past a lunging tackle and returned. Donnelly's early delivery caught out Oisin Duffy and it fell into the arms of Ronan O'Neill. A dummy later and the ball was in the net.

Further points from acute angles by Cathal McShane and O'Neill showed their quality but Derry stuck to their task with a couple of James Kielt points and one from Mark Lynch, with the minimum in it after 15 minutes.

Tyrone, however, scored 2-6 to Derry's single point before they went in for the interval.

Where did it all go wrong for Damian Barton's men?

Well, Mattie Donnelly floated a ball into Sean Cavanagh - who was enjoying a running battle with Rogers all day - and he managed to hold off the Slaughtneil man to swivel and shoot. Goalkeeper Thomas Mallon was equal to the effort, but not O'Neill's follow-up.

Derry switched Karl McKaigue onto O'Neill and they soon took Duffy out of his misery by sending on specialist man-marker Dermot McBride.

But Tyrone's ability to suck the Oak Leafs into their half-back line, and contain them before transitioning at breakneck speed with rapid deliveries into an isolated forward line, is why they are being whispered about as the side that can take out the Dubs.

While Derry took 21 minutes to get their next score from Karl McKaigue, the hammer blow arrived straight afterwards. Another turnover and Peter Harte was away.

He travelled into the heart of Derry's rearguard and slipped Cavanagh the ball. The skipper took it to the byline before transferring back inside to Harte, who coolly placed it into the net.

Three goals in 37 minutes - it took them seven games to rack that up last summer and left 11 points in it at the break, 3-8 to 0-6.

Barton sent in the rangy Cailean O'Boyle at half-time and abandoned their jerky, dysfunctional running game in favour of the high ball. However, with Colm Cavanagh back there, they gained little from the ploy.

The lively but under-utilised Championship debutant Niall Toner had an effort parried and from the rebound Ciaran McFaul back-heeled it into O'Boyle's path, but he pulled his shot wide.

For some reason, the clearly-limping Mark Lynch found himself marking the fleet-footed Harte but when he was withdrawn, Derry suffered an alarming lack of leadership.

Harte almost found himself in the clear with another fast break and although held up, they still made good on the attack with a Donnelly point.

Twelve points up, Tyrone began running the bench and some of the lack of continuity showed. They became indulgent and were guilty of the kind of misses -through Connor McAliskey, Jonathan Munroe and Niall Sludden - that would not be tolerated in a more competitive affair.

Substitute Ryan Bell clipped two points over, one from play. Eoghan Brown and Danny Heavron added two fine efforts but Derry's fate was sealed when McFaul, chasing a loose kickout to Tiernan McCann, lunged at the wing-back and incurred a black card to follow his earlier yellow.

Three minutes from time, captain Chrissy McKaigue followed him having been spotted by the umpires using his elbow on Colm Cavanagh. It's been a while since we have heard a Tyrone crowd sing 'cheerio', but it got a good airing.

Two matches in and two utter mismatches later, somebody needs to check the copyright on that old saying that in the Ulster Championship, anything can happen on the day.

DERRY: T Mallon; O Duffy, B Rogers, K McKaigue 0-1; K Johnston, C McKaigue, G McKinless; N Holly, D Heavron 0-2; S Heavron, J Kielt 0-5, 4f, C McFaul; N Toner, E McGuckin, M Lynch 0-1

Subs: D McBride for Duffy (28), R Bell 0-2, 1f, for McGuckin (33), C O'Boyle for S Heavron (h-time), E Brown 0-1 for Lynch (40), G O'Kane for Johnston (46), C McAtamney for Holly (62)

Yellow cards: McFaul (25), Kielt (58), Rogers (61), McBride (62)

Black cards: McFaul (54)

Red: McFaul (54), C McKaigue (68)

TYRONE: M O'Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, N Sludden, P Harte 1-0; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly 0-1; C McShane 0-1, M Bradley, R Donnelly 0-1; C McAliskey 0-2, 1f, S Cavanagh 0-1, R O'Neill 2-2, 1f

Subs: D McCurry 0-4, 1f, for Bradley (18), P McNulty 0-1 for R Donnelly (49), J Munroe 0-1 for McShane (53), P Hampsey for McCarron (60), K McGeary for Sludden (64), B Tierney for McAliskey (69)

Yellow cards: R Donnelly (32), S Cavanagh (61)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

Attendance: 12,011

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