GAA Football

Derry eye promotion to top flight after fourth win on the trot

Gareth McKinless scored one of Derry's goals and set up the other in the Oak Leafers' win over Clare Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

Allianz Football League: Clare 0-10 Derry 2-13

It appears that Derry’s stint in Division Two of the NFL is only going to be a fleeting visit. Having secured promotion from Division Three last year, Rory Gallagher’s men are poised to advance to the top tier. With four rounds played, they now sit in top spot with four wins to their name, the latest a dominant and impressive win over a previously unbeaten Clare in Ennis.

Second half goals from Benny Heron and Gareth McKinless put them out of reach, the green flags both arising from Derry winning Clare kickouts and duly punishing their opponents. McKinless teed up Heron for his goal on 38 minutes while the Ballinderry man kicked what was a scrappy finish himself on 53 minutes, glamorous or not, it still crossed the line.

While their prowess in the air was a striking aspect of the second half, Derry expertly found gaps in the opposing defence and reeled off points in such move throughout the opening half. They had built up a 0-6 0-3 advantage with 23 minutes on the clock but by the half-time stage, the margin between the sides was only a single point.

Darren O’Neill levelled matters on the restart for the hosts but any hopes of a keenly contested second half soon vanished for the 1,478 spectators. Derry replied with 1-1 including Heron’s goal and while Cathal O’Connor kicked another score for Clare, an admirable reply of 1-4 in succession showed just how dominant Derry were.

On the back of their nine point win, Derry are sitting pretty at the top of Division Two ahead of mouthwatering ties with Galway and Roscommon which Rory Gallagher said makes for a vital fortnight of preparation.

“Clare aren’t out of it but it looks like the game between ourselves Galway and Roscommon will have a massive bearing on it, we wanted to earn the right to be there, we’ve done that and looked after our business, we’ve got to make this an unbelievable two weeks to get ready for Roscommon," Gallagher said.

While he felt Derry allowed their opponents back into the game in the first half, Gallagher acknowledged no team will dominate matters for a full 70 minutes.

“We feel we’re pushing ahead of certain teams, we’ve made no doubt about it, we want to be one of the top teams in the country. In order to do that you have to come to places like here and win, we would have taken a one-point win to winning relatively comfortably and leaving a few goal chances behind us. It’s about us fulfilling our potential, we want to get the most out of ourselves."

For his side, Emmett Bradley, Padraig McGrogan, Paul Cassidy and Shane McGuigan were to the fore.

Following his first defeat in this year’s League, Clare boss Colm Collins lamented a very poor display.

“The second half I thought we didn’t really react to the goal we conceded, we let them boss the game and we were chasing the game after that which is difficult against a team which is very well organised defensively. It was a very poor display by us, there is no other way of dressing it up, if you are playing better teams you get punished and that’s what happened today," he said.

Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey, C McKaigue, B Rogers; C Doherty, P McGrogan, E Doherty; C Glass, E Bradley (0-02); P Cassidy (0-01), N Loughlin (0-01 1f), O McWilliams (0-01); B Heron (1-00), S McGuigan (0-04 4f), L Murray (0-1)

Subs: G McKinless (1-00) for Murray (33), C McFaul (0-1) for McWilliams (45), N Toner for Heron (54), M Downey for Loughlin (59), B McCarron for Doherty (67)

Yellow Cards: G McKinless (43), O McWilliams (45).

Clare: S Ryan; C Rouine, C Brennan, M Doherty; A Sweeney, C O’Dea, E Collins; D O’Neill (0-01), C O’Connor (0-1); A Griffin (0-1), E Cleary (0-1 frees), P Lillis; J Malone, K Sexton (0-5, 0-3 frees), P Collins.

Subs: C Jordan for E Collins (46), D Tubridy for P Collins (48), E McMahon (0-1) for Malone (55), C Downes for Griffin (64), D Keating for O’Neill (71)

Yellow cards: C Brennan (44), C O’Connor (46), P Lillis (52).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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