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Derry 1-11 - 1-10 Down: Derry win proves to be a breeze

McIver's men seal a place in the final as Down penalised with three black cards

By Declan Bogue

Kicking into a gale that tumbled down all of the hills around south Armagh, funnelling into a tunnel blowing straight down Oliver Plunkett Park, young debutant Aaron Kerrigan of Claudy put Derry through to the final of the O'Fiaich Cup next weekend against Armagh.

Kerrigan already had a goal after nine minutes, collecting a kickout from Down goalkeeper Shane Harrison that caught in the wind, before slicing straight through on goal and applying a tidy low finish into the corner.

While you won't find managers complaining, from a spectator's point of view the worth of such games is disputable.

Derry had managed to open up a nine point gap by half time, Down scoring only 0-3 in the first-half against the strong wind that made it extremely difficult to get into enemy territory.

Two points in the second-half was enough to carry Derry home, while they also finished with the remarkable statistic of not collecting a single yellow or red card.

That was in contrast to Down's three black cards. After the midweek match, manager James McCartan had wondered aloud if referees were not going to use the black card because it was in a December backwater.

He got his answer here.

"If it's a black card offence, we want to see them being shown," he commented afterwards.

"Paudie (Hughes, referee) took a liking to them today.

"That's not a criticism. In fairness, I think most of them were black card offences.

"In fact, he could have produced a few more. I have no qualms or difficulties with the referee."

While Down are gone out of contention from the O'Fiaich Cup, McCartan maintains they have got plenty of worth so far from their participation, saying: "What we have found in the past is that you are allowed to start training on the first of January then you have a match on the third of January.

"All of a sudden you are going to from zero to match pace and you are picking up injuries.

"There is no preparation.

"Hopefully, it will be of benefit of us, instead of using the McKenna Cup to try players.

"You will find that the McKenna Cup is a wee bit more competitive because a bit of trialling will have been done in December and people will be tweaking to get ready for the National League."

Derry survived the inevitable Down wind-assisted onslaught in the second-half and although they only clipped two more scores over the bar, it has rendered their midweek game against Armagh as a dead-rubber, another chance to tinker for boss Brian McIver.

"Both sides that we played, Louth and Down, were very experimental and we were the same," he explained afterwards.

"It's great to get them in a wee competition, as opposed to challenge matches.

"We would be very pleased with how this has gone for us so far.

"We will have a look at a few other boys we haven't seen on Wednesday night and see what emerges.

That's how we would see it and one of the reasons for the competition. It will give us an opportunity to play under the new rules as well.

It's going to take a bit of bedding in for players, referees and management."

So far, reaction to the black cards has been measured and sensible.

Paudie Hughes gave three to Down players and reflected on his first game under the new rules: "The first experience is a learning curve.

"You need more games under your belt for all us to get used to it.

"That's my point of view. I have another game on Friday night and then rest up and look over the rules again."

Rest assured, managers, players and spectators will not be so blasé in February with league points at stake.

Even in a code as fluid as Gaelic football, some things are certainties.

Derry: T Mallon; D Browne, M Craig, M McShane; C Kielt, C McAtamney, C Conway 0-1; P Bradley, P Cassidy; C McFaul, J Kielt 0-4, 1f, E Lynn [Capt]; A O'Neill, C O'Boyle 0-4, 2f, A Kerrigan 1-2, 1x'45'

Subs: O Duffy for Craig [19m], K McKaigue for McShane [H-time], N Holly for P Bradley [48m], M Lynch for McAtamney, E Bradley for Cassidy, K Johnston for Conway [56m]

Black cards: 0 Yellow cards: 0

Down: S Harrison; O Costello, L Devlin 0-1, S McNamee; C Garvey, A Carr, M Lively; G McArdle, K King 0-1; P Fitzpatrick, C O'Hare 1-1, C Maginn; S Bell, N Madine 0-2, C Harrison 0-4, 3f

Subs: D Savage 0-1, for Bell [45m], D Turley for Garvey [62m], D McCartan for Fitzpatrick [65m]

Black cards: King [40m, replaced by B McArdle], O'Hare [56m, replaced by L Doyle], Savage [69m, replaced by Bell]

Yellows cards: G McArdle [40m, 55m] M Lively [44m]

Red cards: G McArdle [55m]

Referee: Paudie Hughes [Armagh].

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