Imperious Tyrone set down a title marker against Derry
Tyrone 0-22 Derry 0-11
Tyrone flashed out a sharp warning that retaining their Ulster title is very much top of their shopping list by the emphatic manner in which they brushed aside the challenge of Derry in this low-key provincial quarter-final at Celtic Park yesterday.
Not only did the O'Neill county's largely effortless cruise all but erase the disappointment occasioned through their less than impressive stint in the closing stages of the league when they lost three consecutive matches but it now pits them against rejuvenated Donegal in a mouth-watering semi-final on June 18.
Last year the Red Hands got the better of Damian Barton's side in five competitive meetings and in this context yesterday proved just another routine day at the office for Mickey Harte's foot soldiers.
Apart from all-too-brief spells, Derry were outclassed, forced to bow to their opponents' experience, cohesion and fire-power.
The range of Tyrone's towering talent was best exemplified by the fact that their golden oldie Sean Cavanagh posted seven points in a stunning solo show while championship debutant Conall McCann fitted in seamlessly at midfield to such an extent that he won the man of the match award.
Derry's spirit and effort helped them to remain on their visitors' shoulder until the third quarter but it was after the home side were unable to build on the momentum they displayed when trimming Derry's lead back to 0-11 to 0-8 that they fell apart altogether.
Earlier, Tyrone had lost no time in stamping their imprint on the first half, their brisk surges clearly discomfiting the home defence.
Within the opening quarter of an hour, the visitors had clinically compiled five points with Sean Cavanagh potting a brace from frees, while another also came from a placed ball by Peter Harte with Mark Bradley and Conall McCann also finding the target.
Derry, forced to play on the back foot and clearly lacking invention and penetration up front, could only manage occasional raids and even then the formidable wall of white shirts they encountered meant that they made little headway of note.
Niall Loughlin eventually got Derry off the mark from a free, then added another from play with Daniel Heavron and Ciaran McFaul also landing points.
But when Cavanagh complemented a Tiernan McCann score with his fifth point of the game, again from a free, it could be clearly seen that the force was with Tyrone and that they had no intention of surrendering the initiative.
Tyrone led by 0-10 to 0-5 at the break with the imperious Cavanagh landing five, but it was in the second half that the side exploded into action.
The arrival of Darren McCurry added an extra dimension to the attack and his three spectacular points from play were complemented by scores from three other substitutes - Lee Brennan, Declan McClure and David Mulgrew - to underline the huge resources which manager Harte has at his disposal.
Derry in contrast landed only three points in the last half-hour of the game, their attack rendered largely toothless because of the efficiency of the Tyrone defence into which Colm Cavanagh slotted comfortably as sweeper having already helped to cement his side's authority in the midfield zone.
Niall Loughlin's four points (three frees), Enda Lynn's heroic efforts to galvanise the side his skipper's role, Niall Keenan's bravery in defence and Benny Heron's work rate until he was substituted had helped Derry to salvage a measure of pride but ultimately the team were brought to their knees by Tyrone's intensity and pace.
The Red Hands were fortunate, though, that Mattie Donnelly escaped censure following an apparent brush with Derry defender Chrissy McKaigue.
If the Ulster Championship to date has produced a bill of fare that would suggest it is anything but a highly competitive arena given the winning margins recorded by Monaghan, Donegal and now Tyrone, it can nonetheless be assumed that from here on in the chips will be down in earnest.
And it would seem that Tyrone's appetite will not be sated until the Anglo-Celt Cup is once again in their custody.
Derry: B McKinless; N Keenan 0-1, B Rogers, K McKaigue; C McFaul 0-1, C McKaigue, C McWilliams 0-1; C McAtamney, D Heavron 0-1 (1f); R Bell, N Loughlin 0-4 (3f), E Lynn 0-1; D Tallon, E McGuckin 0-1, B Heron 0-1 (1f). Subs: M Lynch for Bell (49), S McGuigan 0-1 for Tallon (56), M McEvoy 0-1 for McGuckin (60), G O'Neill for Heron (64), C Nevin for McAtameny (64).
Yellow cards: McFaul (34), McGuckin (40). Black card: Burns (54).
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, P Hampsey; T McCann 0-1, R Brennan 0-1, P Harte 0-2 (1f, 1 '45'); C Cavanagh 0-1, C McCann 0-2; K McGeary, N Sludden, C Meyler; M Bradley 0-1, S Cavanagh 0-7 (6f), M Donnelly. Subs: F Burns for McGeary (31), R McNabb for Meyler (half-time), D McCurry 0-3 for Bradley (50), D Mulgrew 0-1 for Burns (BC), D McClure 0-1 for Sludden (57), L Brennan 0-2 for S Cavanagh (60). Yellow cards: McGeary (15), C Cavanagh (40).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)