Tyrone power on as a trophy double beckons
Tyrone 1-18 Derry 0-10
The very real possibility that they will improve further on the levels of cohesion and commitment Tyrone revealed in this O'Fiaich Cup semi-final at sparsely-populated Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen, suggests that they may well have two trophies in their possession before the end of next month.
But manager Mickey Harte has lost no time in firing out a timely reminder that one swallow certainly does not make a summer.
Harte said: "There were plenty of mistakes and basic errors occurring. We must content ourselves that this is going to be part and parcel of early-season form.
"But it's about the result and getting a game in the final next weekend and we would be happy about that."
His team's ability to move into overdrive in the third quarter after they had led at the break by 1-7 to 0-6 proved central to their victory, a clutch of players stepping up to fire over a volley of unanswered points that left Derry floundering in their slipstream yesterday.
Patrick Quinn's fifth-minute goal had proved the catalyst for a solid first-half performance but Tiernan McCann's industry, Ronan O'Neill's creative flair and subtle finishing and the composure of old hands Aidan McCrory and Peter Harte were to prove key elements in thrusting their side onto a higher plain.
O'Neill's seven points highlighted a display rich in invention and flair while goal-scorer Quinn and Cathal McShane served notice that they covet recognition in the side on a regular basis.
Derry's penchant for unforced errors, their vulnerability in the central area and a marked lack of support play on occasions contributed to what was a competitive debut setback for new manager Damien Barton.
"We are disappointed with the margin by which we lost the game and also by our performance," said Barton.
"But this is where we are and at least we have somewhere from which to start.
"There was a drop-off in our possession level which we will have to look at.
"We had boys playing together in this game for the first time and some of them were even playing out of position."
Ryan Bell, Shane Mulgrew and Shane Heavron offered flashes of inspiration in the Oak Leaf attack although the team's cause was not helped when acting skipper Dermot McBride and Bell were shown black cards in the second-half.
Tyrone's dynamic surges reaped dividends while their pace and ability to move the ball wide kept Derry on the back front for spells.
"We were porous through the middle and that did not help," said Barton.
Still, just as one swallow does not make a summer for Harte, an opening-day defeat does not mean a winter of woe for Barton who has time on his side as he embarks on remedial action in advance of the McKenna Cup and Allianz League.
TYRONE: M O'Neill; A McCrory, P Hampsey, H P McGeary; T McCann 0-1, C Clarke, J Munroe; C McCann, R Donnelly; C Meyler 0-1, R O'Neill 0-7 (5f) N Sludden; P Quinn 1-2, H Og Conlan 0-1, C McShane 0-2. Subs: P Harte 0-1 for Conlan (half-time), N Morgan 0-3 (all frees) for M O'Neill (half-time), H Conlan for Merley (52), L Brennan 0-1 for McHane (55), D Mulgrew for Quinn (55), C Meyler for Munroe (58). Black card: D Mulgrew (65).
DERRY: T Mallon; J Morgan, D McBride, R Ferris; G McKinless, B McGoldrick, S L McGoldrick; C Murphy, B Og McGilligan; M Lynch 0-2, S Heavron 0-2, N Forrester; S Mulgrew 0-4 (3f), R Bell 0-2 (1'45'), G McWilliams. Subs: E McGuckin for McWilliams, D Heavron for B McGoldrick, C McFaul for S L McGoldrick, L McGoldrick for McGilligan (all 33 mins), K O'Boyle for Mallon (half-time), B Heron for Lynch (45), C Mullan for Forrester (46), C McAtamney for Bell (48), P Quinn for McBride (54). Black cards: Bell (48), McBride (52).