Derry Seniors start Ulster Championship campaign with big win in Omagh
Having narrowly missed out on promotion to Division 1 in the National Football League back in March, Derry’s Senior footballers had five weeks to prepare and turn their attentions to the winners of the Ulster Senior Football championship Preliminary round game of Tyrone v Fermanagh.
With Tyrone emerging as seven point victors in that game two weeks ago, Derry headed to Omagh to take on the reigning Ulster and All-Ireland champions, knowing they would have to be at the top of their game if they wanted to progress past the Ulster Quarter-Finals for a first time since 2015; a run of six years that had seen Tyrone beat them on three of those occasions (2016, 2017 and 2019 – with 2019 being in Omagh as well).
Thankfully, past form doesn’t always influence the present; and from Conor Doherty’s point in the 5th minute, Derry took a lead they didn’t relinquish for the rest of the game in an impressive performance, which saw Niall Loughlin and Shane McGuigan share the top scorers tag (0-7 and 1-4), that eventually saw the Oak Leaf men, under the guidance of Rory Gallagher and his management team, win by eleven and set up an Ulster semi-final with Monaghan on the 15th May at 4pm at Armagh’s Athletic Grounds.
Below report from GAA.ie – By Declan Bogue at Healy Park
THERE was a sense that not all was good with Tyrone this year, and it all came home to roost with an eleven-point beating at home to a fully-deserving Derry side.
Derry had been showing they were tactically set from the early stages in establishing an early lead, but the alarms must have been ringing on the Tyrone bench when they had just one score from play in the first half, Darren McCurry coming on the loop to let fly with an audacious effort.
The only other scores in the first half were two frees from Cathal McShane – he was fouled by Brendan Rogers for both – and a Niall Morgan ‘45’.
The interesting element to Morgan’s score was how Derry stationed five players directly in front of Morgan with hands in the air. Derry manager Rory Gallagher was on the sideline as assistant manager of Donegal when they did exactly this on Morgan’s Championship debut and they crumbled his confidence on the day.
From kickouts, he found the going tough. Twice he launched the ball over the stand sideline. On 25 minutes he went straight down the middle to Brian Kennedy who caught it but incredibly kicked out at Gareth McKinless, earning himself a red card from referee Paddy Neilan.
At this stage, Derry were three points and a man up. Three minutes later Ethan Doherty played a back-door pass to Paul Cassidy who was taken down by Morgan. It was so obvious it wasn’t even a big call for Neilan to call the penalty, and Shane McGuigan sent Morgan the wrong way to slot home.
McGuigan added another free to have Derry up 1-7 to 0-4 at the break.
With Tyrone getting increasingly desperate they committed Morgan forward but almost got caught on once occasion when a handpass from Conor Doherty didn’t quite reach Niall Toner. The game became ragged with bookings coming into it, but the Tyrone comeback never materialised.
Instead, Derry kept the ball in the cooler, killing it professionally. Tyrone looked ever more exhausted, summed up by Conor McKenna getting sent off for throwing the ball at Ethan Doherty.
Scorers for Derry: N Loughlin (0-7, 4f, 1x’45’), S McGuigan (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), C Doherty (0-2), B Heron (0-2) G McKinless, E Doherty (0-1 each), E Bradley (0-1m)
Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry (0-4, 2f), C McShane (0-2f), D Canavan (0-2, 1f, 1m), N Morgan (0-1, ‘45’), R McNamee (0-1)
DERRY: O Lynch; C McKaigue, B Rogers, C McCluskey; C Doherty, G McKinless, P McGrogan; C Glass, N Toner; P Cassidy, S Downey, E Doherty; B Heron, S McGuigan, N Loughlin
Subs: E Bradley for Toner (55m), Padraig Cassidy for Paul Cassidy (65m), L Murray for Heron (67m), B McCarron for E Doherty, P McNeill for Downey (both 70m)
TYRONE: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, P Hampsey; R Brennan, F Burns, P Harte; C Kilpatrick, B Kennedy; C Meyler, N Sludden K McGeary; D McCurry, C McShane, C McKenna
Subs: D Canavan for McShane, M O’Neill for Burns (both HT), B McDonnell for Brennan (55m), C Monroe for Sludden (66m), M Conroy for McGeary (70m)
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)