DERRY were denied a second McKenna Cup victory in succession by referee Shaun McLaughlin’s decision NOT to award Ryan Bell a blatant penalty in the closing moments of Wednesday night’s tie against Antrim.
Bell was dragged to the floor by a combination of Antrim keeper Chris Kerr and captain Kevin O’Boyle just as he seemed set to cap a tremendous fightback by Derry who trailed the Saffrons by eight points only six minutes into the second half. Despite the Donegal referee’s refusal to award the spot-kick, Derry manager Brain McIver was still happy by the manner of the Oak Leafers’ revival which was inspired by the second half introduction of Daniel Heavron and Gerard O’Kane.
It was Heavron who scored the vital 59th minute goal to bring Derry right back into the game after Frank Dawson’s men had threetened to run away with the game. James Laverty’s first half goal came during a period of 3 minutes during which Derry failed to scored, but inspired by the impressive Mark Lynch, Derry probably should have claimed victory in a tempestuous finale.
The draw was not enough to send either side through to the semi-finals which will take place this weekend.
Derry: K Farren; R Ferris, D McBride, C McWilliams; C Kielt (0-1), M Lynch (0-2), K Johnston; J McCamley, PJ McCloskey; B McGoldrick, R Bell (0-3, 3f), E Lynn (0-2); C Devlin (0-1), L Kennedy, J Kielt (0-2, 2f).
Subs: Patsy Bradley for McCamley (ht), SL McGoldrick for Johnston (ht), D Heavron (1-1) for B McGoldrick (44), G O’Kane (0-1) for C Kielt (44), R Wilkinson for Kennedy (59).
Antrim: C Kerr; K O’Boyle, P Doherty, N Delargey; T Scullion, J Crozier, J Laverty (1-0); S McVeigh (0-2), J Carron (0-1); C Murray, P Cunningham (0-3, 2 f), B Heron (0-1); R Murray (0-3), M McCann(0-2), M Heron (0-1).
Subs: for Cunning ham (51) K Niblock for M Herron (52), C Kelly for Niblock (57), M Pollock for R Murray (61), C Fleming for Cunningham (64).
Referee: S McLaughlin (Donegal).