Derry progressed to the second round of the Christy Ring Cup after substitute Deaglan Foley’s injury time free eventually settled Oak nerves against Division 2B Mayo stormy Owenbeg on Saturday.
Back by a gale force wind in the opening half, JP Coen’s visitors built up a 0-10 to 0-4 half-time lead thanks largely to the impressive Kenny Feeney who contributed 0-8 of that tally from placed balls.For their part Tom McLean’s Oak Leafers put together some decent passages of play but too often good approach play was let down close to Mayo posts.
Derry set up with Conor McSorley in a sweeper role to counteract the conditions in the opening half and the ploy worked well with McSorley and Sean McCullagh superb throughout.
Curiously, given the strength of the wind at their backs for the first 35 minutes, Mayo mirrored the Derry system with Feeney sitting deep but his prowess from placed balls was the difference between the teams in the opening half.
It took 15 minutes before the crowd were treated to the first score from play when Mayo midfielder Kieran McDermott put his side 0-4 to 0-1 up, the other scores coming from Feeney frees with Convery replaying with one for Derry.
Derry should have been celebrating a goal minutes later when a Convery hand-pass sent Paddy Henry clear but , under pressure from a covering defender, the Lavey man could only hook his effort over the bar for 0-4 to 0-2.
Derry frustrations caused too Mayo frees to be moved forward after dissent and Feeney didn’t need the helping hand as he sent all but one of his nine effort on goal over the bar before half-time.
That said, Derry will not have been too disappointed with the six point interval deficit given the conditions and set about eating into the lead right from the restart with a point inside 14 seconds from Jonathan O’Dwyer.
It set the tone for a period of Derry dominance as Convery (3, 2f), Alan Grant and O’Dwyer brought the Oak Leafers level by the 50th minute with Mayo struggling to making any inroads at the opposite end.
Once Convery had edged the home side in front from another free after he had been fouled on 53 minutes, Derry looked set to go on and dominate but credit to Mayo who fought back. Even when O’Dwyer had taken advantage of some indecisive defending from Mayo to stretch the Derry lead to 0-12 to 0-10, Derry never looked like the had the control they should have had.
Feeney’s first score from play after working a short ‘65’ brilliantly with Fergal Boland made it a one point game and Derry were hanging on. They should have made the game safe when O’Dwyer found himself with a clear run on goal and substitute Tiarnan McCloskey in space alongside him and roaring for a pass. The pass never came and before O’Dwyer could get his shot away, Feeney showed he was as adept at defending as he was from frees with a brilliant last gasp tackle to stop the goal chance.
Into injury time and Derry were nervously looking at the clock until Anton Rafferty superbly broke up a Mayo attack and Derry won themselves a free from which Foley was able to end the game as a contest.
Derry: Daryl McDermott; Michael Warnock, Conor Quinn, Sean McCullagh; Anton Rafferty, Conor McSorley, Kevin Hinphey; Sean McGuigan, Breandan Quigley; Paddy McCloskey, Paul Cleary, Paddy Henry (0-1); Jonathan O’Dwyer (0-3), Ruairi Convery (0-6, 6f), Alan Grant (0-2). (Subs) Tiarnan McCloskey for P Henry, 52mins; Aaron Kelly for A Grant, 52mins; Sean McNicholl for P McCloskey, 59mins; Deaglan Foley (0-1, 1f) for S McGuigan, 69mins;
Mayo: Donal O’Brien; Brian Hunt, Aiden Connolly, Eoghan Collins; Kieran Kiely, David Kenny, Ciaran Finn; Kieran McDermott (0-2), Padraig O’Flynn; Austin Lyons, Kenny Feeny (0-9, 7f, 1 sixty-five), Fergal Boland; Stephen Hoban, Declan Gallagher, Darren McTigue. (Subs) Adrian Brennan for C Finn, H/T; Gary Nolan for K Kiely, 57mins; Shane Boland for D McTigue, 63mins; Luke Cribben for A Lyons, 64mins;
Bookings: Kieran Kiely, 37mins;
Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly)