/ GAA

Derry 1-15 Tyrone 2-12

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 11:58 | Comments

Derry's Enda Lynn tries to escape the attentions of Peter Harte
Derry's Enda Lynn tries to escape the attentions of Peter Harte

Derry and Tyrone finished level on 1-15 to 2-12 in a cracking Allianz Football League opener at Celtic Park.

Conan Grugan smashed home an early Tyrone goal, while three scores from goalkeeper Niall Morgan had them ahead by 1-6 to 0-07 at the break.

Darren McCurry netted their second goal, but Derry responded with a Caolan O’Boyle goal, and skipper Mark Lynch fired over the equaliser with seven minutes to play.

All credit to the Oak Leafers, who were seven points behind at one stage but battled back to earn a draw on their return to Division One football.

Tyrone got off to a terrific start, midfielder Conan Grugan marking his league debut by smashing home a goal, after Darren McCurry had found the Omagh man unmarked with the perfect pass after just three minutes.

But the home side hit the front by the seventh minute, James Kielt, Mark Lynch, Enda Lynn and Ciaran McFaul all hitting the target.

With Fergal Doherty and Patsy Bradley dominating at midfield Derry maintained the pressure on a struggling Tyrone defence, and Tyrone were forced to introduce Colm Cavanagh in their engineroom when Danny McBride picked up a black card on 10 minutes.

Derry stretched the lead with Lynn’s second, but Cavanagh made a difference around the middle, and four points on the spin – two of them 45s from goalkeeper Niall Morgan – had the Red Hands level by the end of the opening quarter.

Now the Red Hands were dominant, Mattie Donnelly drifting from the edge of the square to forage for possession, and the ever-alert and elusive McCurry always a threat, hooking over a wonderful third score from wide on the left.

Sean Leo McGoldrick put in a couple of vital tackles to take the pressure of the Oak defence, and they were relieved to hear the half-time whistle, turning around two points behind 1-6 to 0-7.

Tyrone struck another major blow just five minutes into the second half, when McCurry blocked an attempted clearance from goalkeeper Mallon and finished the loose ball into the net.

Now they led by 2-9 to 0-8, and a Derry collapse looked possible.

But Derry showed they are made of serious stuff, and with Sean Leo McGoldrick involved in virtually everything and experienced pair Doherty and Lynch leading by example, Derry dragged themselves back into it.

Emmet McGuckin and Kielt smacked over points, and in the 53rd minute, substitute O’Boyle finished to the net after linking with McGoldrick.

Tyrone came again, with Ronan O’Neill coming off the bench to convert a couple of frees, and Grugan sliced over a gem off the outside of his left boot.

Going into the final ten minutes, the Red Hands were still clinging on to a three points lead, but they were coming under increasing pressure from a Derry team building from deep and attacking in numbers.

Derry finished the stronger. Gerard O’Kane gave them a major lift with a long range point before veteran midfielder Doherty hit the target, and it was skipper Lynch who made the difference in the end with his fourth score.

Derry: T Mallon, D Brown, C McKaigue, D McBride, A McAlynn (0-1), M Lynch (0-04, 2f), SL McGoldrick, F Doherty (0-01), P Bradley, G O’Kane (0-01), J Kielt (0-02, 1f), E Lynn (0-03), C McFaul (0-02), E McGuckin (0-01), B Heron.

Subs: D Mullan for Heron (h-t), C O’Boyle (1-00) for McFaul (48), C McGoldrick for McGuckin (62)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-03, 2 ’45, 1f), A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney, C McGinley, P Harte, R McNabb, D McBride, C Grugan (1-01), N McKenna, S McGuigan (0-1), PJ Lavery, D McCurry (1-4, 0-02f), M Donnelly (0-1), P McNeice.

Subs: C Cavanagh for McBride (10, BC), R O’Neill (0-02, 2f) for McKenna (h-t), R McKenna for McNabb (h-t), C McAliskey for Lavery (53), R McNamee for McGuigan (66).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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