Football

Derry vanquish Down after blistering start

Oak Leaf attention turns to championship opener with Cavan

James Sargent
James Sargent James Sargent starred for Derry against Down Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

Ulster Minor League final

Down 2-7 Derry 1-14

THE Jim McGuigan Cup went back to Derry on Saturday afternoon as their minors deservedly secured victory over Down in the league final in Páirc Esler.

Derry began well and had shot into a seven-point lead before Down registered their opener with a 26th minute free and the Oak Leaf boss, Damien McErlain was pleased with his team’s start.

He said: “We did do well early on but felt we maybe should have been further ahead. We tried to walk the ball in at times. We were very dominant for that first 22 or 23 minutes then all of a sudden you get one turnover, the ball’s in the net and Down are in the game.”

Having been pummelled early on with Derry finding their range for points Down managed a goal and three of their own just before the break, the impetus for the revival being sparked by Darragh Poland’s goal, buried to the net from point blank range.

Derry reasserted their superiority despite playing into the wind in the early part of the second half with Ger Dillon to the fore in the scoring stakes and they made use of an advantage played by referee Eoin Murphy to surge through the Down defence with team captain James Sargent applying an emphatic finish. Down were handed a possible lifeline when Luke Grant, who manned centre half back excellently for Derry, inadvertently deflected a ball into his own net in a bid to stop Barra McEvoy getting to it but Down were unable to build on their fortune as Dillon, supported by Dara McGuckin, notched the necessary scores at the other end to spur Derry to victory.

While being delighted to have secured a first minor league title for Derry for 12 years, Damien McErlain, even moments after the final whistle was already thinking towards the next week’s Championship opener against Cavan.

He concluded: “The league really is a pre-season competition. It’s a totally different animal when we play Cavan next week. We played them last week in this league semi final and they were really good. They missed a few frees, the score could have been a lot tighter and they got another look at us today I’d say.

“We are at home but we’ve work to do on our own patch this week to be ready for that game.”

MATCH STATS

Derry: Jack McCloy; Padraig O’Kane, Ronan Canavan, Rian Collins; Kevin Barry Mullan, Luke Grant 0-1, Dara McGuckin 0-1; James Sargent 1-0, Turlough McHugh 0-1; Eamon Young, Ger Dillon 0-6, 0-4f, Caoimhín Hargan 0-2; Gabhan McIver 0-1, Ruairí Biggs 0-2, Dylan Rocks; Subs used: Emmet Spiers for G McIver (44), Codi Rocks for E Young (50), Cathair McBride for D Rocks (51), Niall Mackle for C Hargan (60+1).

Down: Callum Travers; Shane McParland, Oisin Murphy, Lorcan Lynch; Cormac Small, Lorcan Murray 0-1, Liam Blayney 0-1; James O’Hanlon, Mark Guest 0-1; Conor Ward 0-1, Darragh Poland 1-0, Eoghan Convie; Adam McCann-Gibbs, Barra McEvoy 0-2, 0-2f, Charlie McGrath 0-1; Subs used: Paul McGovern for E Convie (HT), Joe O’Hagan for A McCann-Gibbs (35), Jon Rodgers for J O’Hanlon (42), Eoin McCaffrey for C McGrath (50), Danny McLogan for S McParland (57).