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Derrylaughan beat Cookstown by narrowest of margins…
Derrylaughan really enjoyed their return to the senior championship stage in Tyrone as they resisted a determined second half challenge from Cookstown to clinch their place in the O’Neill Cup quarter-finals on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-11.
The Kevin Barry’s had led Cookstown by six points, 1-8 to 0-5, at half time in their first round clash at Edendork, although they had to face the wind in the second half and Cookstown made them fight all the way to the end to book their place in the last eight.
Cookstown had earlier grabbed the opening score of the match straight from the throw in as Conor Mullan fired over a great point from play but two pointed frees, from Shea Coney and Liam Gervin, put Derrylaughan ahead for the first time, only for Martin Murray to hit a tenth minute equaliser for the Fr Rock’s.
The complexion of the game was then transformed by Liam Gervin who propelled the Kevin Barry’s into a four point lead inside half a minute. Firstly, he slotted over a free that he had earned himself with a penetrating run and then, straight from the resulting kickout, he picked up possession and surged straight through the Cookstown defence and buried the ball in the bottom right hand corner of the net. Suddenly the Loughshore men were holding a 1-3 to 0-2 lead.
Derrylaughan strengthened their position with further points in the 14th and 15th minutes as Kevin Coary and Seamus McCann delivered two fine scores with the wind behind them, leaving it 1-5 to 0-2.
Cookstown looked to be in trouble unless they could respond to the situation quickly and to their credit they managed two welcome scores from Owen Mulligan and Shea McGarrity to reduce the deficit to four points.
However, a neat finish from Ciaran Quinn and a fantastic point from Ciaran Gervin eased Derrylaughan into a 1-7 to 0-4 lead approaching half time. Owen Mulligan, with a well struck free, narrowed the gap slightly once again but Shea Coney promptly converted a free at the other end following a foul on Ciaran Gervin and Derrylaughan were enjoying a healthy advantage as the half time whistle sounded.
It took seven minutes for Cookstown’s first score of the second period to arrive but by the tenth minute of the half they had reduced the arrears to a mere point. Conor O’Hare and Martin Murray, from a free kick, got them going before Brian Mulligan finished sweetly to the Derrylaughan net, leaving the scoreboard reading 1-8 to 1-7. A thrilling second half was now guaranteed.
However, showing considerable maturity Derrylaughan weathered the storm and went back on the offensive to hit three crucial points in quick succession between the 43rd and 45th minutes, including two from Shea Coney and one from Liam Gervin, which left them four points to the good for the last quarter.
Brian O’Neill found the target for Cookstown but another fine point from a Liam Gervin free restored the four point margin. Cookstown were then thankful to their goalkeeper Martin Rea for keeping them in the game as he pulled off a great save to deny Colm Robinson.
Derrylaughan didn’t manage another score in the last ten minutes and had to soak up a lot of Cookstown pressure in the concluding stages. John Gilmore pointed in the 51st minute to improve Cookstown’s chances and this score was followed by two superb Owen Mulligan points, including one from a magnificent sideline kick 40 metres out on the left hand side, which left just a point separating the teams.
The Fr Rock’s gave it everything in search of an equaliser and Mulligan, in particular, was unlucky not to level the game with another great effort, the ball sailing just inches wide. But, on the overall balance of play, Derrylaughan just about deserved this excellent victory which sends them through to the senior championship quarter finals along with their neighbours Moortown, both sides having earned promotion from the intermediate division last year. Shea Coney, Liam Gervin, Ciaran Quinn and Ciaran Gervin were the outstanding players for the winners…