Hurling & Camogie

Derry secure hard-won victory over Tyrone

Morale boost for Oak Leafers ahead of Christy Ring campaign

Derry hurlers
Derry hurlers Derry celebrate after beating Tyrone in the National Hurling League Division 2B final at Owenbeg on Saturday Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

Allianz Hurling League Division 2B final

Derry 1-14 Tyrone 1-8

IT WAS hard won, but Derry’s Allianz League Division 2B title triumph will do wonders for mood and morale as they look towards the Christy Ring Cup.

Tyrone pushed the pre-match favourites all the way, and remained strongly in contention right to the closing stages, level with ten minutes to play.

But Sean Kelly’s goal was the vital breakthrough and they pressed home the advantage in a strong finish to a scrappy title decider at Owenbeg.

This was no derby classic, with Derry in particularly guilty of passing up scoring opportunities, but it was fiercely competitive from start to finosh, and a compelling watch for a crowd of just over 2,000.

“We knew even before the game started that Tyrone would bring everything, especially if we gave them the space,” said centre back and man of the match Richie Mullan.

“They came at us and every mistake that we made in the first half they punished us.

“At half-time there was a lot of questions asked – did we really want it? We just thought that if we really just backed each other in the second half that was probably the difference. If one man went for the ball there was a second man there.

“We can’t lie, we were very concerned at half-time. We weren’t performing, we weren’t doing the things that we had worked at in

training or reached the levels that we had.”

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Stephen McGarry felt the league has been a huge positive and a passage of progress for his developing side.

“The players have performed exceptionally from the very first day against Derry,” he said.

“They have improved throughout the league campaign, unfortunately they came up short today, but I’m immensely proud of them.”

Derry’s strong start saw them rush into a three points lead by the fourth minute, the pick of their scores coming from Darragh McGilligan.

But the Red Hands got a few defensive issues sorted, closed down avenues of threat, and displayed their own potency in front of the posts as Aidy Kelly landed a couple of frees, also sending one straight the net, but the goal was disallowed for a square ball infringement.

They did strike for a goal on 19 minutes, Kelly sending Rory Weir in to fire low past Oisin O’Doherty.

The lead didn’t last long, cancelled out by a Cormac O’Doherty free. But O’Doherty’s customary accuracy deserted him for a while as he steered a series of efforts wide of the posts.

Tyrone gratefully too advantage by going two ahead through Lorcan Devlin, but late sores from Cathal Murray and Ruairi O Mianain had the sides level at the break, 0-7 to 1-4.

The Oak Leafers looked to their defence to pave the way for victory, and a second half shut-out was led by the excellent Richie Mullan, with Paddy Kelly and Sean Cassidy also standing tall at the back as they frustrated their opponents.

With the wind in their backs, Tyrone managed just four points after the break, but they were still level going into the final ten minutes.

O’Doherty rediscovered his range from placed balls, and fine efforts from O Mianain and Corey O’Reilly cancelled out scores from Kelly and James McCann.

The crunch score came in the 60th minute, Meehaul McGrath making the piercing run to send substitute Sean Kelly in to rifle home a goal.

Tyrone had to chase the game, but came up against stiff Oak resistance, and it was the home side who picked up late scores on the breakaway, through O’Doherty and Kelly to win by six.

Derry O O’Doherty; P Kelly, M Craig, S Cassidy; A Duffin, R Mullan, M McGrath; C O’Doherty (0-7, 7f), R O Mianain (0-2, 1f); J Mullan, C O’Reilly (0-1), D McGilligan (0-1); C Murray (0-1), C McNaughton (0-1), P Cleary; Subs: C O’Kane for Mullan (46), S Kelly (1-1) for Cleary (50), P Neilis for McNaughton (57), J Friel for C O’Doherty (68)

Tyrone C McElhatton; D Rafferty, R Devlin, O McKee; B Gormley, F Devlin, B McGurk; J McCann (0-1)), C Munroe; R Weir (1-0), A Kelly (0-6, 6f), L Devlin (0-1); T Morgan, S Og Grogan, J McToal; Subs: T Mullin for Grogan (28), M Little for Weir (60), A Crossan for Morgan (66), E Winters for R Devlin (70), C Taggart for Munroe (72)

Referee J Connors (Donegal)