Downey dazzles for Derry as Oak Leafers book semi-final spot
Dr McKenna Cup: Fermanagh 1-10 Derry 0-17
Derry will face Donegal in the semi-final of the Dr McKenna Cup tomorrow night in Ballybofey following their four-point win over Fermanagh in Roslea on Saturday.
Rory Gallagher’s side built up a four-point advantage in the first half and they looked as if they would keep Fermanagh at arm’s length in the second period.
However, a Sean Quigley goal nine minutes from time had the home side back within a point but it was Derry who were to finish the stronger as they eventually ran out four-point victors.
The result was enough to see Derry secure the best runners-up spot for a last four place and although Gallagher is happy to have another game in the competition, he has questioned the decision to fix the semi-finals for Tuesday night.
“Another game is important, but it is tough to play on Tuesday again,” he said.
“Some of these boys had college games during the week, the surface here we had players cramping and stuff like that.
“It is not ideal to play on Tuesday night, if there was any sense it should be switched to the weekend and park the final to later on, but we’ll see what happens.”
Gallagher had watched his side control things for most of the first half with 18-year-old Matthew Downey producing an assured display in attack, chipping in with seven points over the course of the contest, including six frees.
“I’m very happy with Matthew Downey, we gave him the frees today and he kicked them brilliantly. He is only 18 and Lachlan Murray is only 18 but we clearly believe that they are very good footballers,” he added.
Downey hit his side’s first three scores in the game and with Emmett Bradley, Conor Doherty, Paul Cassidy and Benny Heron all on target they moved into a 0-10 to 0-6 half time lead.
Indeed, that advantage could have been greater as a good move initiated by Gareth McKinless saw Ciaran McFaul get through on goal, but his effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
Fermanagh though did see plenty of the ball and with Quigley, Aidan Breen, Brandon Horan and Tiarnan Bogue on target they stayed in touch at the break.
The four-point gap remained going into the final quarter but Fermanagh were right back in it when Quigley found the net. Quick thinking from the forward saw him play in Danny Leonard from a mark and Leonard returned the ball to Quigley who produced a composed finish.
Fermanagh had their tails up at this stage, but they then lost Kane Connor to a black card and Derry went on to wrap things up as Downey, Lachlan Murray and substitute Enda Downey all landed late points to leave it 0-17 to -10 at the final whistle.
For new Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly it was a second defeat in the competition but he is happy with how things are progressing with his youthful squad.
“We had six Hogan Cup winning players in our starting team today, so we have a young squad and trying to mix those players together and blend them together, I felt they acquitted themselves excellently.
“One of the positives from the two games is that I have learnt that a lot of young players can step up and play at this level,” he said.
And he felt there was an improvement in his side from the defeat to Monaghan.
“I thought, at times, we controlled the ball well and we were more intricate going forward as well. There was a lot more pleasing aspects, I thought we were a lot more cohesive in our play,” he said.
Fermanagh: S McNally; L Flanagan, G Cavanagh, D McCusker; A Breen (0-2), J McMahon, J Largo Elis; D McGurn 0-1 (m), J McDade; C Corrigan, R Lyons, D Leonard; B Horan (0-1), T Bogue (0-1), S Quigley (1-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1m)
Subs: K Connor for Lyons (51), L McStravick for Corrigan (69), R O’Callaghan for Bogue (71)
Yellow cards: James McMahon, Darragh McGurn, Danny Leonard, Brandon Horan
Black cards: Kane Connor
Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey, P McGrogan, S Downey; C Doherty (0-2), G McKinless, M McEvoy; C McFaul, E Bradley (0-3, 0-2 freese); E Doherty, P Cassidy (0-1), M Downey (0-7, 0-6 frees); B Heron 0-1, L Murray 0-1, N Loughlin
Subs: N Toner for E Doherty (32), E Downey (0-2, 0-1 frees) for Loughlin (58), D Cassidy for McFaul (66), A Tohill for C Doherty (69), S Heavron for Heron (73)
Yellow Cards – Ciaran McFaul
Referee: Enda McFeely (Donegal)