GAA Football

Superb second half sends Derry Minors to victory over Tyrone

Cahair O'Kane at Celtic Park

Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship quarter-final: Derry 0-18 Tyrone 1-14

A HUGE step-up in performance after half-time led to Derry overturning a three-point deficit to deservedly oust Tyrone in a highly entertaining minor clash.

The Oak Leafers, who have reached the last two provincial finals, were second best for large parts of the first period and were perhaps fortunate to be as close as three points at the interval.

Some fine attacking play from Tyrone was undermined by some poor finishing, kicking six wides in the opening 20 minutes when they were in the ascendancy.

Peter Óg McCartan's powerful running from centre-forward was causing problems for the home side's defence, while Darragh Canavan – son of Peter – was on the end of three first half scores.

He will perhaps regret the final one of them, though, when he was clean through on goal in first half stoppage time but opted to fist over the bar.

It looked the sensible option at the time and plumped Tyrone's cushion, but the benefit of hindsight would see that it could well have been a killer score.

The outstanding player on the pitch was Derry midfielder Oisin McWilliams, who kept the Oak Leafers in an aerial midfield battle that was at times a struggle, as well as kicking four points off both feet.

His captain Padraig McGrogan impressed in the second half as well when he moved back to centre-back and picked up Peter Óg McCartan, who was quietened by the Newbridge defender.

The switch of Conor McCluskey across to Darragh Canavan after the break also made a difference in the full-back line, with the Magherafelt defender keeping the Errigal forward scoreless in the second half.

A run of six of the second half's first eight scores pushed Derry into the driving seat, with the lively Paddy Quigg jinking and finding spaces, and fine scores from Oisin McWilliams and Padraig McGrogan edging Derry 0-13 to 0-12 in front midway through the second half.

At that stage Tyrone were dealt a major blow when Peadar Mullan, who had done a superb defensive job on St Mary's Magherafelt's MacRory Cup winning captain Declan Cassidy, picked up a second yellow card.

The spare man, and the identity of Tyrone's absentee in the final 10 minutes, played their part as Derry pressed high and forced errors from their visitors in defence.

Sub Lorcan McWilliams – a twin brother of midfielder Oisin – and cool finishes from Richie Mullan, Fergal Mortimer and Mark McGrogan put five between them with time running out.

A free from Oran Mallon cut the gap back to four before deep into stoppage time, Tyrone were awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Oran Hartin was harshly penalised for a footblock when he made a good save to deny Mallon a goal.

By the time PT Cunningham slipped the ball beneath him to make it a one-point game, the four minutes of injury time had elapsed and the final whistle sounded on the kickout.

"A great second half but a very mediocre first half from us," said Derry boss Damian McErlain.

"We were jittery in everything we did in the first half. The team thing came through in the second half, we upped the ante, but we said we had to win the hunger battle.

"Tyrone were diving on the ball in the first half and winning everything, but we turned that around in the second half. Our fitness came through and our quality off the bench came through.

"I'm absolutely clueless as to what our team will be the next day now, which is a great way to be for a manager," said McErlain, whose side now meet an Antrim side with whom they are equally familiar in the provincial semi-final.

Derry: O Hartin; C McCluskey, O McGill, S McKeever; C McShane, D Rafferty, S McErlain (0-1); O McWilliams (0-4, 0-1 45), P McGrogan (0-1); P Quigg (0-3, 0-2free), D Cassidy (0-1), JP Devlin (0-1); R Mullan (0-1), A Doherty, C Murphy (0-1)

Subs: B McCarron for Murphy (29), L McWilliams (0-2, 0-1free) for Doherty (29), M Bradley for S McKeever (h-t), M McGrogan (0-1) for D Cassidy (44), F Mortimer (0-1) for JP Devlin (44)

Yellow card: O McGill (39)

Black card: F Mortimer (60) replaced by T Walsh

Blood replacement: L McWilliams for Mullan (22-28)

Tyrone: L Quinn; C Breen, A Fox, P Mullan; D McGuigan, C Grimes, C Devlin; B McNulty (0-1), R Gormley (0-1); M McGuigan (0-1), P Óg McCartan (0-1), D Millar (0-1); J Campbell (0-2), PT Cunningham (1-2, 1-0pen, 0-1free), D Canavan (0-3)

Subs: A Connolly (0-1) for Gormley (48), C Quinn for Campbell (52), O Mallon (0-1free) for McNulty (55), O Sludden for M McGuigan (58)

Yellow cards: P Mullan (31, 50), A Fox (41), B McNulty (49), O Mallon (56)

Red card: P Mullan (second yellow, 50)

Referee: C Dourneen (Cavan)

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