Tyrone hopes of a championship hurling upset, at wet and blustery Healy Park against Derry were well and truly squashed by the Oak Leaf men this afternoon, but the eventual thirteen point winning margin was very harsh on Tyrone’s efforts.
A 2-13 to 0-6 score line would suggest a one sided encounter, but Tyrone can be proud of their efforts on a day Carrickmore’s Martin Grogan stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the field of play. Grogan capped an inspirational performance with an audacious long range free in the second half, but it was the visitors lightning opening and strong conclusion to the game that eased them to a deserving, if somewhat flattering success.
In a competitive opening half wind assisted Derry established a 1-8 to 0-4 interval lead courtesy of a Michael Kirkpatrick goal on 25 minutes. That goal handed Derry a 1-6 to 0-2 lead, but Tyrone continued to play the basics well with their defence doing Trojan work to kept them in contention.
Goalkeeper John Devlin with a fantastic double save denying Oisin McCloskey from the penalty spot and, then again as the Banagher man attempted to guide home the rebound and with Damian Maguire, Tony Hughes and Peter O’Connor a hive of activity, Tyrone gave their guests plenty of food for thought. Rory O’Neill with an excellent point after blocking Sean Cassidy’s lackadaisical clearance.
Trailing by seven, at the break, Tyrone emerged for the second half determined to utilise the elements and, it is testimony to their efforts that only three points were registered in the opening 23 minutes of the half. Cathal McErlean sandwiching a Kirkpatrick brace for a 1-10 to 0-5 score line. However, Tyrone were the better team with Grogan in particular leading a rousing challenge in what can only be described as testing conditions. Sheets of rain and a heavy ball allied to the greasy surface made life awkward for all concerned but had Tyrone shown a little more composure in front of the posts then they could have made Derry sweat in the closing stages.
Derry goalkeeper Pearse Magill thwarting a Rory O’Neill effort, at the net, while several players saw opportunities dropping short, as Tyrone enjoyed a dominant fifteen minute spell.
Grogan’s mammoth free reduced the deficit 1-11 to 0-6, but Derry were to find a new lease of life with Alan Grant’s goal two minutes from time copper fastening a thirteen point victory that was in no way reflective of Tyrone’s efforts. Tyrone turn their attention towards Warwickshire and the Lory Meagher Cup semi final next weekend on a day they were beaten but far from disgraced.
Liam Hinphey’s return to action bolstering the Derry challenge with Mark Craig, Cathal McKeever and McCloskey also making considerable contributions to their success