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Black card can't stop Derry's victory parade

Russell Pritchard

Dark insignificant December night in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, or was it?

Little does the GAA world know but the game of Gaelic football has now changed forever as last night we saw the first black card issued.

The player who will carry this dubious honour? Derry corner forward Declan Mullan.

The incident itself wasn't exactly what the powers that be in the GAA had in mind when they called for the rule to be introduced in the first place.

A tackle which took place where no goal scoring opportunity was denied. Pure unadulterated cynicism? I think not.

In an evenly contested first half Cian Doyle opened the scoring. The 18-year-old was one of eight debutants that started for Louth on the night.

Derry, with their edge in experience, then took over, forcing Louth to concede an Emmett McGuckian penalty.

The Eoghan Rua duo of Ciaran McGoldrick and Mullan inside were most industrious at this early stage, accounting for half of their team's first half points between them.

Solid defending was the foundation of their success.

However, the bright Louth team fought their way back into the game.

Midfielder Daniel O'Connell intercepted a pass out of the Derry defence to set up Stephen Campbell who finished calmly to the bottom corner.

Declan Byrne finished off the comeback with two sublime points off either foot.

Yet Louth still went in a point down at the break.

At this stage there had been no black cards, an indication of the openness and quality play in the game.

Louth brought their subs on during the break and started the half brightly, kicking three scores in a row.

This fired Derry's management into action, making substitutions of their own.

Derry scored two points and levelled up the game.

Then the momentous moment arrived, Down referee Brendan Rice producing the first black card in GAA history, Mullan the recipient. This however was not a bad thing for Derry as it forced them to bring in Anthony O'Neill, who then scored a goal with his first touch.

Brian White handed Louth a lifeline with a 45 which was fumbled into the net by Derry returnee Fergal Doherty.

The powerful Derry side were in determined mood and really dominated from then on.

Aaron Kerrigan got another goal and young Ciaran McFaul ended proceedings with a fine point to match his display.

So remember the date folks, December 5, 2013. The day cyncism died in GAA? We'll see.

Derry manager Brian McIver said it was "early in the year" before correcting himself, showing how far ahead he was in his preparations.

"We had a meeting with two of our referees to educate the players on the new rule but emphasised that until they are in actual competition it is hard to tell."

Overall he was happy with the game: "Good run out for both sides and good game of football."

He feels the black card rule bodes well for the future.

Louth: S McLaughlin, C Murray, P Rath (Cap), T Costello; D Byrne (0-2), D O'Hanlon, K McLaughlin; B Donnelly, D O'Connell; S Hand, D Maguire (0-1), E O'Connor (0-1); S Campbell (1-1), K Rogers(0-3), C Doyle (0-1). Subs: J Kermode for Donnelly, W Woods for Hand, White (0-1 145min) For Maguire, G Connolly for C Murray (HT)D Finnegan for O'Connell(50) O'Connell for Kermode (65)

Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, C McKaigue, M McShane; C McAtamney, Aidan McAlynn, K McKaigue; N Holly, F Doherty; C McWilliams, C McFaul(0-2), J Kearney; D Mullan(0-3 1f), E McGuckin(1-0pen), C McGoldrick (0-1). Subs: P Cassidy for Holly B Heron for McWilliams k Johnstone (0-1) for Kearney (all 40mins) A O'Neill (1-1) for Mullan (50 mins) A Kerrigan(1-0),for McGuckian (55mins) SL McGoldrick for K McKaigue (60)

Referee: Brendan Rice (Down).

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