/ GAA

Derry 3-14 Armagh 1-11

Updated: Sunday, 19 Jun 2011 21:24

Eoin Bradley celebrates his spectacular strike in Clones
Eoin Bradley celebrates his spectacular strike in Clones

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Derry reached their first Ulster SFC final in 11 years with a nine points win over Armagh at Clones.

The Oak Leafers destroyed the pre-match favourites with a scintillating attacking display built upon a midfield dominance they held from start to finish.

Eoghan Bradley and Conleith Gilligan shot down Orchard hopes with a combined total of 2-10, while Mark Lynch weighed in with 1-2.

Armagh, who had overcome last year’s All-Ireland finalists, Down, to reach this semi-final, never led, and never looked like overhauling their dominant opponents.

Derry eased ahead early on with a couple of converted frees from Eoin Bradley, but Armagh responded with scores from Stevie McDonnell and Micheal O’Rourke.

Mark Lynch launched a superb point from wide on the right to regain the lead for the Oak Leafers, a score that was quickly cancelled out by Micheal O’Rourke, who collected Charlie Vernon’s pass to split the posts.

Armagh full back Brendan Donaghy picked up a yellow card as early as the12th minute, and Bradley immediately eluded his marker to launch his first point from play.

The Orchard men crafted a goal chance when Jamie Clarke, Kevin Dyas and Billy Joe Padden combined to send McDonnell through, but his shot was superbly saved by Danny Devlin.

Clarke squeezed over a point from an almost impossible angle, but Bradley was in the mood, drifting deep to launch his third score from play from 45 metres out.

Derry scored a wonderful goal on the half hour. It came from an intricate move started and finished by Lynch, with quick-handed passes from Sean Leo McGoldrick and Michael Bateson playing a crucial part.

Winning the midfield battle through Joe Diver, Michael Friel and Enda Muldoon, Derry continued to dominate and went in at the break with a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage.

But Armagh made an explosive start to the second half, with Micheal O’Rourke planting the ball in the bottom corner of Devlin’s net from McDonnell’s incisive offload.

Now just two points separated the sides, but the Oak Leafers stepped on the gas once again, and when Bradley nipped in behind Andy Mallon to collect James Kielt’s superb delivery and blast to the net in the 47th minute, they were on their way.

Armagh did respond with a string of points from McDonnell and Charlie Vernon, but the game was out of sight when Gilligan raced through from Lynch’s pass to drill the ball past Paul Hearty for a third goal.

Gilligan tapped over another couple of frees to bring his tally to 1-5, a target Bradley had also reached when he was called ashore to a huge ovation with five minutes to play.

It was exhibition stuff from John Brennan’s men in the closing stages, as they stroked the ball about, and picked off a few late scores at their leisure, and a deflated Armagh team began to contemplate an uncertain future in the Qualifiers.

Derry: D Devlin, SL McGoldrick (0-1), K McGuckin, D McBride, B Og McAlary, C Kielt (0-1), M Bateson, J Diver, M Friel, M Lynch (1-2), J Kielt, B McGoldrick, E Muldoon, E Bradley (1-5, 0-2f), C Gilligan (1-5 (0-5f).

Subs: C Mullan for McAlarey, C O’Boyle for Muldoon, E McGuckin for Bradley, C McGoldrick for Lynch

Armagh: P Hearty, A Mallon, B Donaghy, K Dyas, A Kernan (0-1), C McKeever, V Martin, K Toner, C Vernon (0-1), T Kernan, BJ Padden, M Mackin, M O’Rourke (1-1), S McDonnell 0-6 (3f, 1 ’45), J Clarke (0-1).

Subs: J Lavery for Martin, P Duffy (0-1) for Dyas, D McKenna for Padden, B Mallon for O’Rourke, J Murtagh for T Kernan

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).