Derry 2-15
Armagh 0-14

Derry turned on the style in the second half to lift the first Ulster U20 Football Championship and the Danny Murphy Cup at sun-baked Clones with a 2-15 to 0-14 win over Armagh.

Brian Cassidy came off the bench to shoot 2-2 in the final quarter as the Orchard challenge wilted, while Declan Cassidy weighed in with five brilliant scores in a man of the match display.

Ross McQuillan led the Armagh challenge with five points from play, while Rian O’Neill also hit some fine scores, but they were unable to live with the movement and skill of a talented Derry side built from the cream of three successive provincial MFL winning teams.

Armagh succeeded, on a technicality, in their appeal against suspensions imposed on eight of the ten players banned in the wake of a brawl which marred their semi-final win over Tyrone, and were almost back to full strength for the decider.

The Orchard men got off to a bright start with scores from Ross McQuillan and Rian O’Neill, and they almost had a goal when Jason Duffy got his shot away, but centre back Conor McCluskey saved off the line.

O’Neill nudged Armagh three in front with a 45 metre free, after Lorcan McWilliams had got the Oak Leafers off the mark with a couple of scores.

Armagh were looking strong as centre back Conor O’Neill powered through for a point, but towards the end of the opening quarter, Callum Brown and Oisin McWilliams began to exert their influence around the middle, and Derry started to find ways to counteract the effectiveness of sweeper James McAlinden.

Derry substitute Barry Cassidy slammed home two goals as Derry won the U20 Ulster final

Declan Cassidy edged them ahead for the first time at the end of the opening quarter, and a superb Ben McCarron effort stretched the lead.

But back came Armagh, and but for some heroic defending from Conor McCluskey, they would have narrowed the gap. Jason Duffy did fire over a long range point, and the Oak Leafers were living on the edge.

The Orchard could have gone ahead late in the half, but McQuillan’s fiercely struck shot flashed just wide, and Derry countered to pick off two points, through McCarron and Cassidy, to take a 0-8 to 0-6 lead into the break.

Conor O’Neill and Rian O’Neill trades scores with Cassidy and Lorcan McWilliams, and in the 48th minute, McWilliams supplied the exquisite pass for substitute Brian Cassidy to drill home a goal.

Now five ahead, the Oak Leafers were able to perform with some joy and freedom, and goalscorer Cassidy fired over a couple of gems, with Declan Cassidy adding to his tally.

Armagh were running out of steam, and scores from McQuillan and O’Neill mattered little, as Callum Browne set up Brian Cassidy for his second goal.

Derry: O Hartin; S McKeever, D Rafferty, C McShane; E Concannon, C McCluskey, P McGrogan; C Brown, O McWilliams (0-01); C Doherty, S Downey, B McCarron (0-02); M McGrogan, L McWilliams (0-05, 4f), D Cassidy (0-05).

Subs: B Cassidy (2-02) for McGrogan (38), M Bradley for McCarron (42 BC), J McAtamney for L McWilliams (53), H McGurk for Cassidy (62)

Armagh: C Duffin; J McAlinden, B McCambridge, D Loye; C McGeary, C O’Neill (0-02, 1f), S McCarthy; J Duffy (0-02), C O’Neill; R Magennis, R McQuillan (0-05), M Carr; C Turbitt, J Murphy, R O’Neill (0-04, 2f, 1 ’45).

Subs: J Kieran (0-01) for Murphy (38), N Magennis for R Magennis (42), K McAlinden for Turbitt (50), D Luckie for McAlinden (52)

Referee: S Laverty (Antrim).