Derry feel the wrath of Tyrone
Tyrone 2-15 Derry 0-12
Tyrone produced the Gaelic football equivalent of the high press to dominate almost every single kickout of this game, giving them a platform for a comfortable victory over their neighbours.
There is a subtext to this win, of course. It means that under Damian Barton, Derry have now had four attempts to beat Tyrone and come up short each time, this performance certainly the most alarming. In two and a half months, the same two teams will meet at Celtic Park in the Championship.
Barton's men have a fair bit to do between then and now.
"It was a big win and two league points, that was the most important thing," deadpanned Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
While his side had no problem gaining primary possession, with Richie and Mattie Donnelly combining well around the middle, their running game sliced Derry's rearguard to pieces. Harte acknowledged that, but likes to remind us that there is more up the sleeve than that.
"I think we are capable of doing that," he said. "But I don't think it is the only way of playing the game, we can mix and match a bit more than that."
Looking ahead to May 22, he also brought up the fact that Derry's other goalkeeper Thomas Mallon had been left off this side in favour for Eoin McNicholl.
"Derry have another goalkeeper who is very accurate with his kickouts. Maybe tonight the goalie who was in was under a bit more pressure," he said.
Putting together a run of five consecutive points in eight minutes during the first half, Tyrone gave themselves a four point lead at half time, after assuming control.
Derry managed to gain some parity while living off scraps of possession, but the game was put beyond their reach with 20 minutes to go after Richie Donnelly caught a kickout and it was transferred through Ronan O'Neill and Tiernan McCann to find a rampaging Sean Cavanagh who thumped it to the top corner of the net. Another goal was to follow in the closing stages when Aidan McCrory potted a neat shot.
"They punished our mistakes. An experienced team like Tyrone will always do that," said Derry coach Brian McGuckin.
On their inability to secure their own kickouts, he explained: "I felt that we didn't have the movement required to win the kickouts we needed to win, in order to set up attacks. Whenever Tyrone are pressing you in there, they are going to create opportunities."
Harte also lauded the contribution of a seriously strong bench, with Mark Bradley, Conor Meyler, Justin McMahon among others, all coming on.
He explained: "I think that we had energy to come in off the line as well.
"I think that helped, it gave us an injection of pace when other people were tiring.
"If you can bring people into the game and they get involved straight away, then they do make a difference. It is the case that in the modern game, you need people fresh to come in for the last 20 minutes of a game. They know they only have 25 minutes to last the pace and there are players now who accept that that's the way the game is played."
Harte also answered a query on strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly who had tendered his resignation to the county management committee last week, but appears to still be in harness after some arrangement was made.
"I never considered that he was away," said Harte. "I am not party to the politics of the game, I just think that Peter Donnelly is a wonderful asset to this county and I hope he stays there for a long time."
TYRONE: N Morgan, A McCrory 1-0, R McNamee, C McCarron, B Tierney, R Brennan, T McCann, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly, K McGeary 0-2, P Harte 0-1, R Donnelly 0-4, C McAliskey, S Cavanagh 1-1, R O'Neill 0-6, 5f. Subs: C Meyler 0-1 for Brennan (h-t), J Munroe for Tierney (48), M Bradley for McGeary (48), D McCurry for McAliskey (62), J McMahon for McNamee (65), C McCann for Harte (69).
DERRY: E McNicholl, O Duffy, C McKaigue 0-1, K McKaigue, G McKinless, B Rogers, M Craig, N Holly, E Bradley 0-1, D Heavron 0-1, C McFaul 0-1, SL McGoldrick, R Bell 0-2, 2f, E McGuckin 0-1, J Kielt 0-3, 2f. Subs: R Ferris for Craig (30), C Bradley 0-2, 1f for Bell (44), C McAtamney for E Bradley (52), C O'Boyle for Kielt (55), S Heavron for K McKaigue (59, BC), B Heron for McGuckin (65)
Red card: C McKaigue (60m)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)