In the final minute of normal time, Alan Grant harried London corner-back Conor Hickey into carrying the sliothar over the end line. Up stepped Paddy Henry to land a match winning ‘65’, the Derry sharp-shooter scoring 1-06 in a ‘Man of the Match’ performance,
But this was a game that could have gone either way, Derry falling behind in the early minutes as London hit four points in the opening 10 minutes.
Ace free taker Peter Phelan turned provider for Neil Rogers to open London’s account in the second minute, the Cuchullain’s star then pointing a free.In the 8th minute he took a pass from Tadgh Healy and pointed, then adding another minor from a free.
London were on top in the early minutes but Derry’s defence got to grips with their pressure game, Conor McSorley and Conor Quinn sealing off the middle.
In the 13th minute Henry puicked out Paul Cleary surging through and he got Derry on the scoreboard. The confidence returned as Ruairi Convery stroked the ball over the bar from the 13m free for 0-04 to 0-02.
McCloskey then took a pass from a Paddy Henry free and closed the gap to the minimum, Derry’s recovery complete in the 22nd minute when Convery converted another free.
Phelan pointed for London’s first score in 20 minutes but moments later the sides were all square when Henry dissected the posts from a narrow angle on the left wing, the dual star putting Derry 0-06 to 0-05 ahead in the last minute of normal time.
London finished the half on a high though when Enda Collins delivered a telling ball for Mark O’Dwyer to drill the sliothar to the net for a 1-05 to 0-06 interval lead.
Kevin Hinphey, who along with Conor McSorley and Conor Quinn, were outstanding in the second half for Derry, started the move in the 37th minute that lead to Derry’s opening goal. Anton Rafferty played the ball out to Grant on the flank and he played a perfect ball across the goalmouth for Henry to direct it past keeper James Barrett for a 1-06 to 1-05 lead.
Four minutes into the half, Convery rolled back the years with a wonderful strike over the shoulder that arrowed the ball beautifully between the uprights.
Three minutes later Henry pointed from distance, Neil Rogers chalking up London’s eighth wide.
Phelan pointed a free when McSorley was harshly penalised for ‘picking the ball off the ground’, two points between the sides in the 43rd minute.
Convery was fouled out near the side line and Henry drilled the ball unerringly through the eye of a needle, such was the narrowest of angles that he faced.
When he added another point from a free after Grant was fouled the margin between the sides was now four points, 1-10 to 1-06, in Derry’s favour in the 49th minute.
Michael Ivors drew a free and Phelan pointed to make it a one score game and that score would follow soon!
It came 10 minutes from time when Derry keeper, Daryl McDermott, made a superb save at the base of the post to deny Mark O’Dwyer at the expense of a ‘65’. Derek Morkan dropped the ball into the goalmouth where O’Dwyer fielded cleanly and then somehow batted it one-handed to the net to tie the scores.
Substitute Dean Flanagan had a great chance to put Derry back in front from a scoring position but he wided from 20 metres.
However another Derry replacement, Niall Ferris, had the small crowd of Derry fans off their seats when he pointed three minutes from the end of normal time but Phelan landed his sixth free to conjure up visions of extra time!
But once Grant had shepherded Hickey over the end line with the ball in hand, it was left to Henry from the resulting ‘65’ and he made no mistake to send Derry into the semi-final in two weeks time.
Derry: Darrell McDermott; Michael Warnock, Conor Quinn, Sean McCullagh; Anton Rafferty, Conor McSorley, Kevin Hinphey; Sean McGuigan, Breandan Quigley; Patrick McCloskey (0-1), Paul Cleary (0-1), Patrick Henry (1-6, 5f, 1 sixty-five); Aaron Kelly, Ruairi Convery (0-3, 2f), Alan Grant. (Subs) Dean Flanagan for B Quigley 54 mins; Niall Ferris (0-1) for P McCloskey 50 mins; Brendan Douban for A Kelly 64 mins.
London: James Barrett; Conor Hickey, Luke Gaule, Kieran Fitzpatrick; Tadgh Healy, Martin Ryan, Derek Morkan; Enda Cooney, Neil Rogers (0-1); Peter Phelan (0-6, 6f), Nollaig Brophy, Mark O’Dwyer (2-0); Michael Ivors (0-1), Kevin Coen, Enda Collins. (Subs) Phiiip Murphy for K Coen 43mins; Christopher McAlinden for E Collins 52 mins;
Referee: John Keane (Galway)