Tyrone 0-14 Derry 1-8
Tyrone set up a Dr McKenna Cup final clash against Armagh with a 0-14 to 1-8 win over Derry at the Athletic Grounds.
These sides will play three divisions apart in the NFL later this month, but the Oak Leafers pressed last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists all the way, and will go into their Division Four opener against Antrim high on confidence following this gutsy performance.
For the Red Hands, there’s a valuable fifth competitive gave ahead of their difficult trip to Kerry for a Division One opener.
Three Christopher Bradley points heled Derry to a 0-6 to 0-3 lead, but Tyrone finished the opening half strongly, with scores from Ruairi Sludden and Ronan O’Neill to go in at the break level on 0-6 each.
Patrick Coney smashed home a Derry goal on 45 minutes, but five points (4f) from substitute Peter Harte saw the Red Hands push for home.
Derry, playing into the wind, performed with assurance as they took the game to the Red Hands, going ahead early on with a Christopher Bradley free.
Bradley, one of five Slaughtneil players in their starting fifteen, caused problems for the opposition defence right through the first half, converting a ’45 into the strong breeze, after Ben McDonnell and Ronan O’Neill had shot last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists ahead.
Christopher McKaigue and Ciaran McFaul worked hard around midfield as the Oaks continued to play with positivity, and they went back in front through the excellent Enda Lynn.
With half an hour played, Derry led by double scores, 0-6 to 0-3, and they could have had a goal, but Kyle Coney got back to execute a vital tackle on Bradley.
Tyrone, with towering midfielder Brian Kennedy plucking balls from the sky, stepped up the tempo in the closing stages of the half, reeling off points through Ruairi Sudden and Ronan O’Neill, from frees, and a well taken Conall McCann effort to go in at the break level on 0-6 each.
Mickey Harte made a treble substitution at the break, and two of those replacements, Darragh Canavan and Peter Harte, were on target. Teenager Canavan, son of the great Peter, carried a significant threat, and a vital tackle from Ryan Dougan stopped him as he headed for goal.
Canavan slotted over a delightful point, and Kyle Coney eased Tyrone two ahead, but Derry struck for a brilliant goal, Lynn sending Patrick Coney through to smash a thunderous shot past Benny Gallen.
However, they failed to push on, and went 25 minutes without adding a further score.
Newcomer Kennedy was impressive around the middle for the Red Hands, and it was Harte’s accuracy from frees that helped them build up a winning lead.
Shane McGuigan scored Derry’s only point of the final quarter, while Tyrone attacked with purpose. Their finishing let them down often, with several shots dropping short, but a fine Harte effort from play, and Coney’s late point saw them through to another decider.
Tyrone: B Gallen; A McCrory, HP McGeary, M McKernan; B McDonnell (0-01), R Brennan, M Cassidy; D McClure, B Kennedy; C McCann (0-01), K Coney (0-02), C McShane; L Brennan, R O’Neill (0-02, 1f, R Sludden (0-02, 2f).
Subs: P Harte (0-05, 4f) for O’Neill (h-t), D Canavan (0-01) for L Brennan (h-t), L Rafferty for McCrory (h-t), D McCurry for Sludden (48), F Burns for Cassidy (70)
Derry: T Mallon; E Concannon, C Mulholland, S Quinn; P Coney (1-00), K McKaigue, J Rocks; C McKaigue, C McFaul; R Dougan, J Doherty, P Cassidy; C Bradley (0-04, 3f 1 ’45), S McGuigan (0-02, 1f), E Lynn (0-02).
Subs: C McAtamney for Doherty (46), N Toner for Dougan (56), G McKinless for Bradley (56), D Hughes for Mulholland (62)
Referee: C Branagan (Down).