DERRY and Down did everything in their power to avoid a similar scenario to last year, but even after four periods of extra-time, they couldn’t be separated.
The sides drew in last year’s Ulster semi-final, which was the cause of the now infamous delay that resulted in the final only being played in February of this year.
When they finished level at 4-20 to 3-23 at the end of the first two periods of extra-time, both teams agreed to play a further two five-minute periods, but even that couldn’t wedge them apart and they must now do it again.
The replay has been scheduled for Armagh Athletic Grounds on Saturday, which leaves three of Derry’s key players in a major quandary. (Throw-in 3 p.m.)
Kevin Lynch’s trio Kevin and Liam Hinphey and Patrick McCloskey are due to travel to Kilkenny on Saturday morning for a pre-arranged team bonding weekend with their club.
If they do travel with the Kevin Lynch’s party, they will therefore miss the replay against Gerard Monan’s side.
Patrick McCloskey and Brendan Rogers, who is also a doubt for the replay after suffering a hand injury during the game, netted the Oak Leaf first half goals, with James Coyle finding the net for Down as they went in level at 2-6 to 1-9.
Down, who had only 17 players available, appeared to have one foot in the final when they raced into a ten-point lead in the third quarter, but Derry hit 2-4 without reply in the final 12 minutes to level it. Extra-time wasn’t supposed to be played, never mind extra-extra-time, but the sides agreed to push on as they tried to find a winner.
Oisin McCloskey’s 65’ dropped to the net before Chrisy Convery also raised a green flag. His brother Ruairi fired over a last-gasp 75-metre free to tie the game at 4-13 to 3-16.
The elder Convery looked to have won it at the death in extra-time but Down refused to lie down and Michael Ennis fired over an equaliser that left both teams scratching their heads and negotiating more time to sort it out.
They got an extra ten minutes but they just couldn’t be pulled apart, despite a Tommy McCloy goal that had Derry three up at half-time, only for Down to again come back and ensure that there was no option left but a replay.
Derry: Darrell McDermott; Ruairi McCloskey, Anton Rafferty, Eugene McGuckin; Paul Cleary, Kevin Hinphey, Cathal McQuillan; Sean McGuigan (0-1), Malachi O’Hagan; Patrick McCloskey (1-2), Oisin McCloskey (1-0 65’), Aaron Kelly (0-3); Johnny O’Dwyer (0-4), Ruairi Convery (1-8, 0-7f), Brendan Rogers (0-1)
Subs: Conor Quinn for McQuillan; Tiarnan McCloskey (1-1) for M O’Hagan, Chrisy Convery (1-2) for P McCloskey, Tommy McCloy (1-0) for B Rogers