Derry retained their Guinness Ulster senior hurling title with a 1-17 to 3-10 victory over Down at Casement Park this afternoon. A point from John O'Dwyer won the match for Derry in one of the best Ulster finals in years with both teams playing excellent hurling. Despite dominating the play in the second half, Down only managed to score three points out of many scoring opportunities while Geoffrey McGonagle produced a brilliant performance for Derry with a tally of 1-08.
The sides were level inside the 15th minute at 0-04 to 0-04 with the prolific McGonagle scoring three for Derry and Tom Coulter scoring all four for Down. A blitz of goals came in a five-minute spell courtesy of Barry Coulter and McGonagle, and another two goals for Down from Noel Sands added to Down's 3-07 to 1-08 lead at half-time.
At the restart, Derry put on the pressure with four points, while Down could only manage one from a free from Braniff. In the final 15 minutes, McGonagle and O'Dwyer exchanged points to level the game, but with one minute remaining, Braniff restored the Down lead with a point. Gregory Biggs levelled the sides four minutes into injury time before John O'Dwyer squeezed in the last point to see his team retain their title for the first time in the county's history.
Derry will now meet Connacht giants Galway following tonight's draw for the Guinness hurling championship quarter-finals. Limerick will face beaten Leinster finalists Wexford in the other match.
Meanwhile, Derry's minors began the day in the same style their senior counterparts ended it with a 0-12 to 2-05 victory over Antrim.
Filed by Sinéad Kissane