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Derry boss salutes fans after Oakleafers battle back to beat Sligo

Derry 1-13 Sligo 0-15

By Stephen Doherty

Derry minor manager Damian McErlain praised the vocal support of their fans after he guided his side to the All Ireland Minor Football semi-final with the narrowest of victories over Sligo.

The Oakleafers trailed for most of the game, but his team, roared on by raucous support from the stands, rallied to produce a rip-roaring second-half performance to overturn a five-point deficit.

"It is nice to hear the Derry supporters. I think they nearly went into a chant at one stage and that's the first time in three years I have heard that," McErlain observed.

"We are on the right track. We are still in the Championship and hopefully we can improve for the next day."

Derry will meet the winners of today's clash between Dublin and Clare after digging deep to see off the challenge of a feisty, well-drilled Sligo side by a single point at Ballybofey.

Underdogs Sligo were well worth their lead when they ran in four to the good at the break after their best half of the season, with Red Og Murphy's cultured left peg notching up eight first-half points.

Derry, for their part, were well below their usual high standard. Richie Mullan opened the scoring in the first minute, but a brief hat-trick of frees from star-man Murphy saw Sligo grab a ninth minute lead that they never looked like surrendering.

Oisin McWilliams was wayward with his frees, but his 30th-minute point was a cracker. Unfortunately for Derry, it followed four in a row from their opponents who held a strong advantage at 0-10 to 0-6 at the interval.

Sligo's four-point lead soon became a five-point one shortly after the restart when Barry ­Gorman dissected the posts. Derry needed to find another gear and with a gun to their heads they showed serious character to bag seven of the next scores, including Richie Mullan's crucial goal, to flip this tie completely on its head.

Sligo continued to cause serious problems with Og Murphy the perpetual thorn in their side, but free-taker Oisin McWilliams nailed the winning score of the game on the hour mark.

Boss McErlain added: "We got plenty of food for thought today and we now have a massive challenge ahead against either Dublin or Clare. It is a big occasion for the lads so it will be heads down for the next three weeks to prepare because we know today's performance wouldn't deliver in the semi-final."

Derry: Richie Mullan 1-2, Oisin McWilliams 0-4 (0-3f), Patrick Quigg 0-3 (0-2f), Tiarnan McHugh 0-1, Declan Cassidy 0-1, Simon McErlain 0-1, Odhran Quinn 0-1

Sligo: Red Og Murphy 0-11 (0-6f), Barry Gorman 0-2, Ciaran O'Dowd 0-1, Cian Brett 0-1

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