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Back in the day - June 28 1998: Derry stay cool to reach Ulster final

AERIAL COMBAT...Armagh’s Paul McGrane leaps high with team-mate Justin McNulty to to win this midfield battle ahead of Derry pair Enda Muldoon and Dermot Heaney at Clones yesterday
The irish News Archive

Bank of Ireland Ulster senior football championship semi-final Derry 2-13 Armagh 0-12

TEN minutes to go, sides level, Ulster Championship semi-final.

What does a winning team need in those 10 minutes?

“Maturity, coolness under pressure, tremendous resolve and character,” said Derry’s assistant manager Frank Kearney, who watched his side suddenly move up a gear and put a goal and four points on the board without threat of reply from Armagh.

“Those are the qualities that our fellows needed to produce, and did produce, and that made all the difference at the finish.”

Dermot Dougan’s second goal, a ‘they think it’s all over’ moment as the Derry subs waited for the final whistle, put a rather flattering appearance to the Derry scoreline.

But how close had Armagh really been?

“Armagh did more or less as we expected. They were full of running, and good in the air, but we figured if we could pressurise them enough they would kick rash wides, and they did in the opening of the match,” said Kearney.

Crucial to Derry’s win was how their backs handled Armagh dangermen Marsden, Duffy and Houlahan, and Kearney was full of praise for his side’s efforts.

“They coped with anything that Armagh put at us, and Sean Martin Lockhart had a great game all the way through on Diarmaid Marsden, he came to the ball early, won it, used it.

“David O’Neill also had a great game, Henry Downey had a good game and Gary Coleman when he went in, showed again a cool head.”

For Dougan the difference was Derry’s midfield, where over the last 10 minutes Tohill and Enda Muldoon kept Armagh pinned back hopelessly in their own half.

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PAUL McBurney gave a hint to the Commonwealth Games selectors that he is back in business with a powerful win in the combined Northern Ireland and Ulster Track and Field Championships at a very wet Mary Peters Track.

The double record holder had been troubled with a stomach bug all season but looked very smooth as he sped to an easy 21.54 second clocking in his 200 metres semi-final.

McBurney was faced with Dundrum South Dublin runner Paul Opperman in the final but was untroubled as he cruised round the bend for a comfortable win in 21.52.

There was a surprise in the 1500 metres. Dermot Donnelly, holder of the Tony McKnight Trophy, moved down from his usual 5,000 to defend against Eddie King who is more at home over two laps.

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STEPHEN Leeman was a first time winner of the Ulster Hardcourt Championship at Windsor on Saturday.

The Portadown man defied the seedings to beat Steven Watters, ranked two, to win the trophy on a 6-4, 6-2 scoreline.

But chances of a local double were dashed when Windsor’s Suzanne McGuigan went down, despite a brave fight, against the Dublin visitor.

McGuigan looked out of touch in the first set but rallied strongly only to lose 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.

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