Derry see off Monaghan in penalty shoot-out to secure Ulster Minor Football Championship title

Derry's minors celebrate another Ulster title win Picture by Philip Walsh
Derry's minors celebrate another Ulster title win Picture by Philip Walsh

Electric Ireland Ulster MFC final

Derry 1-15 Monaghan 3-9 (AET, Derry won 4-2 on penalties)

DERRY won a fourth minor title in nine years with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Monaghan in Sunday night’s mammoth decider in Armagh.

It was a winning return for manager Damian McErlain who steered the Oak Leafers to the 2015 and 2017.

Jack McCloy was the hero in the penalty shoot-out with saves to deny Farney captain Matthew Carolan and Conor Jones before Conall Higgins slotted home the winner.

It was redemption for the Slaughtneil goalkeeper who shanked his kick-out to Matthew Finn which allowed the Farney lads  to force extra-time with the last kick after Derry had one hand and another four fingers on the Murray Cup.

It was Monaghan who set off at 100 miles an hour. After Andrew Stuart’s wide in the first attack, McCloy’s kick-out into the breeze was boxed down with Tommy Mallen left to run though on goal before tucking the ball to the bottom former of the net.

Derry replied with a Higgins free before their zonal press flummoxed Monaghan’s kick-out.

The Oak Leafers made hay in the sun with frees from Higgins and Ger Dillon to level matters after just six minutes.

Johnny McGuckian, who shipped a heavy bang in the opening minute, then finished low to the net after an Oisin Doherty’s pass for a 1-3 to 1-1 lead after 11 minutes. James Sargent added a 45 in a half that had turnover after turnover.

Monaghan hit scores through Ethan McCaffrey and Conor Jones, but it was Derry who finished the half with a flourish, translating turnovers into points for Tommy Rogers and McGuckian and they led 1-7 to 1-4 at the break.

The first talking point of the game arrived in the 35th minute when McCloy’s kick-out was cut out by Finn who tucked to the net before the goal was ruled out as McCloy’s restart was adjudged not to have gone outside the 21-metre line.

The second Monaghan goal came a minute later when Sean Óg McElwain blasted to the net to make the score 1-9 to 2-5.

Then the game turned into a game of pin ball. Higgins hit a goal chance straight at goalkeeper Mooney after Finn had blasted straight at McCloy seconds earlier;

Mooney and McCloy also made fine diving saves to deny Cahir Spiers and Conor Meehan.

Ger Dillon and Spiers added points before Jones side-footed home a third Monaghan goal to make the score 1-12 to 3-5 with five minutes to play.

Derry substitute Cahal McKaigue and James Sargent plucked vital kick-outs when the game was in the mixer.

Ger Dillon looked to have sealed the game before points from Max Maguire and Finn forced extra-time, with Derry starting the extra period  without Johnny McGuckian after a late black card.

Higgins nosed Derry ahead, but the opening spell of the first half was dominated by Monaghan who had three wides before goalkeeper Mooney kicked an equaliser.

Monaghan edged ahead in the final period of the game with a Mallen free before Conall Higgins hit a pressure kick to force penalties.

Derry now play last year’s All-Ireland champions Galway in this year’s quarter-final after they lost Friday’s Connacht final to Mayo.  The latter will face Monaghan in the last eight.

Derry: J McCloy; R Small, F McEldowney, L Grant; C Spiers (0-1), F Murray, O Campbell; T Rogers (0-1), J Sargent (0-2, 1 45); E Young, G Dillon (0-4, 0-3 frees), J McGuckian (1-1); J Boyle, C Higgins (0-4, 0-2 frees), O Doherty (0-1)Subs: C McKaigue for T Rogers (40), L O’Neill for O Doherty (46), D McGonigle for J Boyle (55), D McGuckin for O Campbell (65), D McNamee for E Young (72)

Black card: J McGuckian (63)Penalties scored: J Sergant, D McNamee, J McGuckian, C Higgins

Monaghan: J Mooney (0-1); E McCaffrey (0-1), J Lynch, C Greenan; A Stuart, T Quinn, C Murphy; M Carolan, D Connolly; C Jones (1-1), M McGinnity (0-2 frees), C Meehan;

T Mallen (1-1, 0-1 free); M Finn (0-1), L McKenna (0-1)

Subs: S McElwain for M Finn (Blood sub 19, reversed 24), S McElwain (1-0) for T Quinn (34), M Maguire (0-1) for E McCaffrey (47), C Clerkin for C Meehan (49), J McCrystal for M McGinnity (52), J McCaughey for C Murphy (61), O Maher for A Stuart (ET), J Wright for D Connolly (70+1), M McGinnity for J McCrystal (73), T Doherty for S McElwain (79)

Yellow cards: C Murphy (3), M Maguire (59),

S McElwain (73), L McKenna (76)

Penalties scored: M McGinnity, M Finn

Referee: M Loughran (Tyrone)