James Kielt goal gives Derry McKenna Cup win over UU at Celtic Park
Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B: Derry 2-14 Ulster University 3-10
IN a game of umpteen goal chances, it was James Kielt’s magnificent drilled finish that finally turned the tide of an entertaining evening’s football in Derry’s favour.
Ulster University had led 1-9 to 1-6 when Terence O’Brien coolly slotted home an early second half penalty, though Kevin Johnston felt hard done by not being awarded a free out earlier in the move.
UU looked in control at that stage but when Rory Brennan was sent off for a needless strike on Enda Lynn, the balance seemed to swing again.
Derry hit three quick points to level it, with the introduction of Kielt and Mark Lynch strengthening the home attack.
Danny Tallon then slid home a goal against the run of play that gave UU a 2-9 to 1-9 lead but it lasted all of 30 seconds, with Lynn’s hunger for work forcing a turnover in front of the students’ goal that Kilrea man Kielt capitalised on with a rocket across the helpless Fox.
Lynch kicked two late points, as did Ciaran McFaul, and that was just about enough from Damian McErlain’s perspective as he took an opening win in front of a small crowd.
The Jordanstown students netted a third goal with the last kick when they powered a way through the middle and Ruairi McGlone blasted low past Ben McKinless, but it wasn’t quite enough to change the outcome.
Derry had gone in at half-time a single point ahead, thanks in the main to a wonderfully crafted goal from Enda Lynn.
The Greenlough man started the move himself just inside his own half and followed right through to get on the end of Conor Doherty’s pass and deftly palmed over a flat-footed Sean Fox, who also made a couple of good saves later on.
That was 16 minutes into a half which largely followed the same pattern either side of its one green flag. Ulster University were well set-up and Derry found them hard to break down, but the hosts were still more efficient in attack.
Michael McEvoy kicked the pick of the Oak Leaf scores with a superb effort off the outside of his left foot but there were plenty of moments of frustration too for a side containing four debutants, including man-of-the-match Ruairi Mooney.
Ciaran McFaul was off target with a couple of efforts and the lively Peter Hagan was guilty of over-playing a couple of scoreable frees as they tried to find a rhythm in attack.
Terence O’Brien, who will join up with the Derry squad for the National League, impressed for Ulster University, while there were also good performances from Fintan McClure in the first half, David Mulgrew at times and Ruairi McGlone late on.
They could have had more goals and were denied a superb score by the inside of the post when McGlone’s marvellous through ball found David Mulgrew, but his shot cannoned back into McKinless’s arms.
A winning opening for Derry and a very useful and positive one for Jordanstown.
Derry: B McKinless; C McCluskey, K Johnston, R Mooney (0-1); P McGrogan, M McEvoy (0-1), J Curran; J Doherty, P Kearney; C Doherty, C McFaul (0-3, 0-1 free), P Coney (0-1); E Lynn (1-3), N Toner, P Hagan (0-1 free).
Subs: C McAtamney for Kearney (h-t), L McGoldrick for Curran (h-t), J Kielt (1-2, 0-1 free) for C Doherty (h-t), M Lynch for Toner (47), S McKeever for McGrogan (56)
UU: S Fox; C McCann, C Burke, M Magee; R Brennan (0-1), R McNamee, G McKinless; J Munroe (0-2), T O’Brien (1-2, 0-1 45); R McAnespie (0-1), D Tallon (1-0), D Mulgrew (0-4 free); E McHugh, F McClure, D Gallagher
Subs: B Grant for Burke (h-t), O Duffin for McKinless (h-t), R McGlone (1-0) for McClure (43), M Walsh for Gallagher (49), S Loughery for Munroe (63), L Harney for Tallon (69)
Referee: C Mooney (Down)