Oak Leafers are gunning for revenge in Cup final
Monaghan 1-13 Derry 2-12
Derry and Tyrone crossed swords at competitive level on no fewer than five occasions last year, with the Red Hands triumphant in each meeting.
And here we are with 2017 still in its infancy yet with a further renewal of one of football's most intense rivalries on the menu at Pairc Esler, Newry on Saturday night after the Oak Leafs beat Monaghan 2-12 to 1-13 yesterday.
The Dr McKenna Cup final may be somewhat removed from haute cuisine Championship fare but Derry assistant manager Brian McGuckin isn't afraid to dip into the superlatives in contemplating the clash.
"It will be a fantastic occasion," predicted the former Tyrone ace. "Our objective this year is to create a winning culture.
"Down beat us a couple of weeks ago in what was a pretty insignificant game yet there was a lot of disappointment in the dressing room afterwards.
"These Derry players want to win every game in which they participate."
And he is hoping that his side can take a leaf out of Tyrone's book for the final.
He said: "They keep on winning matches and we want to do the same. I believe that this Dr McKenna Cup final will be a great occasion for our players, particularly the newcomers, and one that they will surely relish."
Derry, with man of the match Enda Lynn to the fore yesterday, showed the kind of spirit, commitment and resilience that could stand them in good stead against the Red Hands, who will be seeking their sixth successive McKenna Cup triumph.
The Oak Leafers spluttered through the first half of their semi-final when James Kielt and Niall Loughlin did much to help assemble their 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.
Monaghan had struggled to find their rhythm up until then and it was a brace of points from Conor McManus immediately prior to half-time that helped to put a rather more flattering look on the interval scoreline from their perspective.
Malachy O'Rourke's side maintained their renaissance through the third quarter when Fintan Kelly and McManus swung over points that boosted the team's confidence further.
Substitute Conor McCarthy's goal in the 51st minute then seemed to have swung the pendulum clearly in Monaghan's favour but when the lion-hearted Emmet McGuckin touched home a 58th-minute goal, it proved the signal for a late Derry surge.
Mark Lynch and Brendan Grant in particular put their shoulder to the wheel, their work-rate spreading like a virus throughout the side.
Derry's display reached a climax in the 70th minute when Kielt majestically swept home their second goal - and opened the door to a possible reversal of their fortunes against Tyrone.
Derry: B McKinless; N Keenan, C Nevin, R Murphy; N Forrester 0-1, O Duffin, M Craig; J Kielt 1-3 (2f), A McLaughlin 0-1; E Lynn 0-1, N Loughlin 0-3 (f), C McWilliams; R Bell 0-1, E McGuckin 1-0, B Heron. Subs: C McAtamney for McLaughlin (17), M Warnock for McWilliams (17), M Lynch 0-1 (f) for McAtamney (B 34), B Grant 0-1 for Heron (BC 35), C McGrogan for Craig (44), G O'Neill for Bell (65). Yellow cards: Keenan (25), McGuckin (53), Warnock (59).
Monaghan: C Forde; D Wylie 0-1, N McAdam, O Coyle; F Kelly 0-2, K Hughes 0-1, C Walsh; D Hughes, N Kearns; K O'Connell, B McGinn 0-2 (1f), O Duffy 0-2; R McAnespie, D Malone, C McManus 0-4 (4f). Subs: K Duffy for Mone (18), D Hughes for Hearns (h/t), M Murnaghan for McAdam (h/t), C McCarthy 1-1 for Malone (h/t), S Carey for McAnespie (51), T Kerr for McManus (65). Yellow cards: K Duffy (40), Wylie (53), O Duffy (59).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)