GAA Football

Derry ease past Ulser University and into the last four of McKenna Cup

 Derry 1-20 Ulster University 0-7. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
From Michael McMullan at Owenbeg

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section C: Derry 1-20 Ulster University 0-7

DERRY ran out comprehensive winners at home against Ulster University, but elsewhere Armagh’s win over Monaghan was enough to take Damian McErlain’s side through to Sunday’s Dr McKenna Cup semi-final as the best runners-up.

It sets up a repeat meeting with Tyrone, who they will also meet in May’s Championship clash at Healy Park.

The Oak Leafers held Ulster University scoreless as they built up a comfortable 10-point lead by half-time.

The home side got off the mark after three minutes with Chrissy McKaigue and Jason Rocks involved in a move for a Conor McAtamney point.

But the first half was an insipid affair, dictated by Derry. Enda Lynn played up front on his own, but it was Glen duo Ciaran McFaul and Emmett Bradley directing operations.

Lynn and Bradley (2) saw Derry four points ahead and cruising, against a UU side missing a plethora of players from the side expected to feature in the Sigerson Cup later this month.

With Sean Francis Quinn and Jason Rocks comfortable on the ball, they worked their way through what resembled a training game at times.

Derry's Sean Quinn with Ceilum Doherty of Ulster University during the McKenna Cup match at Owenbeg on Wednesday night. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Read more: Tyrone beat Fermanagh in turgid game to reach McKenna Cup semi-finals

Bradley and Padraig Cassidy added to the scoring to stretch the gap to six before Derry carved out a goal chance.

It was a Conor McAtamney pass but Emmett Bradley’s shot was saved by Crossmaglen stopper Tiarnan McConville.

Then on the cusp of the interval, the students’ net was bulging. The move began when a free out was given against Ceilum Doherty who played on after calling a mark.

After the counter-attack, Emmett Bradley linked up with Padraig Cassidy before tucking to the net, helping Derry into a 1-7 to 0-0 half-time lead.

UU brought on Lee Brennan, Karl McKaigue, Dailaigh Jones and Josh Connery at the break and it was Brennan who notched their first score of the game.

Points from Bradley (2) and McFaul stretched Derry’s lead to 1-10 to 0-1 five minutes into the half.

Brennan, who scored five points, 0-3 from play, looked like UU’s only real scoring threat.

Indeed, it was a 62nd minute Lorcan Harney point that was the students’ first score from play.

Derry’s defensive trio of Eoghan Concannon, Conor Mulholland and Sean Francis Quinn never looked in any danger of conceding as the home side held total control of the second half.

With much of the attention switching to games elsewhere, Derry kept the scoreboard ticking over, with Ryan Dougan tagging on three second-half points.

Brennan was wasteful with four frees, with Enda Lynn ending up with five to his name and the impressive Ciaran McFaul also finding his range.

In a lacklustre final quarter, debutant Martin Bradley won a Mallon kick-out, before passing to Conor McAtamney who played Enda Lynn in for the last score of the game.

The Oak Leafers now face an extra game ahead of their League opener with Antrim in Glenavy at the end of the month.

For Ulster University, their management trio of Paul Rouse, Benny Hurl and Barry Dillon must regroup and recharge their side for a opening round clash with IT Tralee in the Sigerson Cup.

Derry: T Mallon; E Concannon, C Mulholland, SF Quinn; R Dougan (0-3), E McGill, J Rocks, C McKaigue, C McFaul (0-3); C McAtamney (0-2), E Bradley (1-6, 0-3 frees), P Coney; P Cassidy (0-1), E Lynn (0-5, 0-1 free), D Hughes

Subs: M McGrogan for E Bradley (43), P McGrogan for J Rocks (50), S McKeever for E McGill (52), M Bradley for D Hughes (58)

Ulster University: T McConville; E Murray, P Teague, O Duffin; P Laverty, M McKernan (0-1), D Gallagher; R Mullen, O McConvey; N Donnelly, J Doherty, D Cassidy; C Doherty, C O’Hagan, L Harney (0-1)

Subs: R Jones for O Duffin (28), D Jones for E Murray (h-t), J Connery for O McConvey (h-t), K McKaigue for P Teague (h-t), L Brennan (0-5, 0-2 frees) for C O’Hagan (h-t)

Blood sub: C Donaghy for R Mullen (57)

Referee: M McNally (Monaghan)

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