Updated: April 1st, 2024

Allianz FL: Derry claim League title after penalty drama with Dubs

Derry are 2024 Allianz Football League Division 1 champions after one of the wildest games of football we’ve seen in Croke Park in a very long time.

Game Recap

from GAA.ie

Derry 3-18 Dublin 2-21 (AET, Derry win 3-1 on penalties)

As a spectacle this match had it all. Two heavyweight teams who went toe to toe from first whistle to last, great goals, moments of scarcely credible drama, and then a penalty shoot-out to put the tin-hat on it all.

Had Derry conspired to lose this game it would have been a very quiet bus-journey home because they really should have won it in normal time and extra-time before they finally got the job done on penalties.

Credit to Dublin though for refusing to surrender right down to the last play of the game in extra-time when they somehow found the goal they needed to draw level, but they’ll probably admit though they they were second-best for much of this game.

Derry cut them open time and again, and really should have scored more goals than the three they did manager to register.

The Ulster side made it clear from the off that they relished this opportunity to go toe to toe with the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park.

They took the game to Dublin and scored the first two points of the match through Shane McGuigan, the first a free and the second a trademark effort from play with that sweet left peg of his.

Dublin drew responded with a Tom Lahiff point from play and a Con O’Callaghan free, but it was Derry who continued to play the better football in the first 15 minutes of the match.

They were mixing things up nicely, both running the ball from deep and also kicking directly when that was the percentage play.

Points from McGuigan (free) and Ethan Doherty restored their two point lead, and then Niall Loughlin pushed them three clear with a score that summed up all that was good about Derry’s play in the first quarter.

Brendan Rogers made a great interception and fed the ball to Conor Glass who passed to Loughlin. The Greenlough man showed a great turn of pace to speed past Brian Howard and kick a nice score on the run.

Brian Howard responded for Dublin with a fine point with the outside of his boot, and then Derry shipped a real sucker punch when they conceded a soft goal.

Killian McGuinness hung a high ball into the square and when Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch punched it clear it went straight to the onrushing Colm Basquel who finished clinically.

Sean Bugler stretched Dublin’s advantage to two points, 1-4 to 0-5, but Derry slowly regathered their composure and were the better team again for the final 10 minutes of the half.

Eoin McEvoy of Derry celebrates with Conor Glass, left, after scoring their side’s third goal during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final match between Dublin and Derry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

Lachlan Murray settled them down with a nice point after being by through by the very influential Eoin McEvoy, and then Brendan Rogers landed a great score from distance after Cian Murphy had replied for Dublin.

McEvoy then blocked a Niall Scully shot for goal and moments later was down at the other end of the pitch clipping a point that drew the teams level.

The teams traded two points each before the break with the very lively Murray bringing down the curtain on the first half with the pick of them, a beautifully flighted kick from the right sideline.

The pace of the game went up another notch at the start of the second half as Dublin scored two points in as many minutes through Niall Scully and Killian McGinnis. The latter score probably should have been a goal as McGinnis worked a nice one-two with Tom Lahiff to create an opening but then blazed his shot over the bar rather than under it.

But just when it looked like Dublin were finding their stride, Derry struck for their first goal of the match when Ethan Doherty was fouled in the act of shooting by Eoin Murchan and Shane McGuigan converted the resulting penalty.

A minute later Derry nearly had another goal when Paul Cassidy’s fiercely struck shot went just wide of the post.

Dublin drew level with a Con O’Callaghan free but then Derry did get that second goal when Eoin McEvoy strode forward to get onto the end of a pass from Ethan Doherty and cannoned a shot to the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Niall Loughlin followed up with another Derry point but then had a good spell as Tom Lahiff, Ross McGarry, and Con O’Callaghan (free) hit points that reduced the deficit to the minimum.

Derry looked sure to score another goal on 54 minutes when Ethan Doherty rounded Evan Comerford but his shot was saved on the line by Eoin Murchan.

Conor Glass landed the resulting ’45 and the excellent McEvoy kicked another point to push Derry 2-14 to 1-13 ahead.

Yet another goal chance went abegging for Derry on 64 minutes when Comerford did well to save a Murray shot with his feet.

There was always a chance Dublin would make Derry pay for those misses and sure enough in the final 10 minutes they found a way to pull the game out of the fire.

Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch, centre, is congratulated by Christopher McKaigue, left, and manager Mickey Harte during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final match between Dublin and Derry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Points from Sean McMahon and Ross McGarry left the minimum between the teams again but it looked like Derry would hod on for the win when Sean Bugler kicked the ball wide with just a minute of injury-time remaining.

Derry needed to hold on to possession but they were unable to do so as Donncha Gilmore was stripped of the ball and then Conor Doherty fouled Cian Murphy for a free that O’Callaghan pointed to bring the game to extra-time with the scoreline reading 2-15 to 1-18.

Credit to Derry, they didn’t drop their heads when a mentally weaker team might, and in the first period of extra-time they were the marginally better team.

Niall Toner and Killian O’Gara exchanged a brace of points each as the game swung from one end of the field to the other, but it was Derry who had the last say of the half as a Conor Doherty point nudged them 2-18 to 1-20 ahead.

They did even better at the start of the second period of extra-time when they created yet another goal chance and this time took it, and it was another brilliant finish by that man Eoin McEvoy as he made the net dance with a piledriver.

The excellent Cian Murphy hit back with a point for Dublin but as the minutes ticked away it looked Dessie Farrell’s team were running out of time.

Not so. There was yet another twist in this story as Dublin’s last Hail Mary attempt for a goal was successful.

A hopeful ball into a crowded square pinballed off a couple of fists before it landed in the arms of substitute Greg McEnaney and he somehow found the room to shot and blast the ball to the roof of the net for an equalising goal that sent the game to penalties.

After the drama that went before the penalties were almost anti-climactic. Derry scored all three of theirs with Shane McGuigan, Conor Glass, and Ethan Doherty hitting the back of the net, but Paul Mannion was the only one of four Dublin kickers to convert with Con O’Callaghan, Lorcan O’Dell, and Tom Lahiff all missing theirs.

A tough way for Dublin to lose, but in the final reckoning the better team came out on top.

Teams and scorers

Scorers for Derry: Eoin McEvoy 2-2, Shane McGugian 1-4 (2f), Lachlan Murray 0-3 (1 mark), Niall Toner, Niall Loughlin, Conor Glass (1 ’45) all 0-2, Ethan Doherty, Brendan Rogers, Conor Doherty, all 0-1

Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 0-5 (all frees), Colm Basquel 1-1, Greg McEnaney 1-0, Tom Lahiff, Cian Murphy, Ross McGarry, Killian O’Gara all 0-2, Seán MacMahon, Brian Howard, Seán Bugler, Killian McGinnis, Niall Scully, Paddy Small, Paul Mannion (f) all 0-1

DERRY: Odhran Lynch; Conor McCluskey, Christopher McKaigue, Diarmuid Baker; Conor Doherty, Eoin McEvoy; Pádraig McGrogan; Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers; Ethan Doherty, Ciarán McFaul, Paul Cassidy; Niall Loughlin, Shane McGuigan, Lachlan Murray. Subs: Gareth McKinless for Pádraig McGrogan (ht), Niall Toner for Gareth McKinless (52), Cormac Murphy for Niall Loughlin (66), Donncha Gilmore for Paul Cassidy (70), Emmet Bradley for Lachlan Murray (77), Declan Cassidy for Christopher McKaigue (81), Eunan Mulholland for Conor Doherty (88)

DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Seán McMahon, Cian Murphy, Eoin Murchan; Brian Howard, John Small, Seán Bugler; Brian Fenton, Tom Lahiff; Ross McGarry, Killian McGinnis, Ciarán Kilkenny; Colm Basquel, Con O’Callaghan, Niall Scully. Subs: Paul Mannion for Killiana McGinnis (52), Paddy Small for Colm Basquel, Lorcan O’Dell for Niall Scully (both 57), Killian O’Gara for Ross McGarry (70), Theo Clancy for Eoin Murchan (80), Cian O’Connor for Seán McMahon (80), Greg McEnaney for Seán Bugler (86)

Ref: Conor Lane (Cork)