Tyrone’s reign as Ulster champions came to an end at O’Neills Healy Park on Sunday afternoon when they were well beaten by a Derry side who were full value for their victory.
It was a game that the All Ireland champions never got going but credit for that has to go to the visitors who played with pace, power and energy throughout. It was just one of those days as far as Tyrone were concerned as they played nowhere near what they are capable off. It was a defeat that they just have to take on the chin and they have four weeks to refocus before they play in the qualifiers, the qualifiers now containing both of last year’s All Ireland Finalists. For Derry they now go forward to an Ulster semi final meeting with Monaghan and there is no doubt that this win will be an enormous boost for their confidence.
Derry wing half back Conor Doherty, who was superb throughout, opened the scoring before Niall Loughlin got the first of his seven points when he knocked over a free. A Cathal McShane point from a free got Tyrone up and running in the 9th minute but even at this early stage Derry looked like a side on a mission. Ethan Doherty showed good pace to run through and split the posts but Darren McCurry cancelled that out with an outstanding effort from out on the right wing. Benny Heron and McShane traded points to leave Derry 0-4 to 0-3 in front with a quarter of an hour played.
That was as good as it got for Tyrone as a “45” from keeper Niall Morgan was all that they had to show for the remainder of the first half as Derry set about establishing a match winning lead. Centre half back Gareth McKinless pushed forward to score and Loughlin followed that up from a free before a big turning point arrived in the game when Tyrone midfielder Brian Kennedy was straight red carded in the 27th minute. It was a massive blow to Tyrone and two minutes later Derry were certainly in the driving seat when Shane McGuigan converted a penalty after Paul Cassidy had been fouled. Derry now had a spring in their step and they closed the half out with a free from McGuigan to leave it 1-8 to 0-4 at the short whistle.
Derry picked up where they left off on the restart with Loughlin converting a free. McCurry pointed from play and substitute Darragh Canavan converted a free as Tyrone briefly closed the gap but they never looked like winning the game. Heron raced through to drive over with Loughlin on target again before Canavan responded for Tyrone. McGuigan and McCurry exchanged points from frees before Loughlin got another point from a placed ball and substitute Emmet Bradley followed that up with a score from a Mark.
Tyrone full back Ronan McNamee got forward for a point but that proved to be Tyrone’s last of the contest and sixty seconds later they were down to thirteen men when Conor McKenna received a second yellow card. Derry weren’t finished yet in the scoring department as Loughlin got another brace and McGuigan was on target again as they ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, “45”), M McKernan, R McNamee (0-1), P Hampsey, R Brennan, F Burns, N Sludden, C Kilpatrick, B Kennedy , C Meyler, P Harte, K McGeary, D McCurry (0-4, 2F), C McShane (0-2, 2F), C McKenna. Subs: D Canavan (0-2, 1F, 1M) for McShane, M O’Neill for Burns, B McDonnell for Brennan, C Monroe for Sludden, M Conroy for McGeary
Derry: O Lynch, C McKaigue, B Rogers, C McCluskey, C Doherty (0-2), G McKinless (0-1), P McGrogan, C Glass, N Toner, P Cassidy, S Downey, E Doherty (0-1), B Heron (0-2), S McGuigan (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2F, N Loughlin (0-7, 5F, 1 “45”). Subs: E Bradley (0-1, M) for Toner, Padraig Cassidy for Paul Cassidy, L Murray for Heron, P McNeill for Downey, B McCarron for Doherty