Derry stormed their way into the final of the Dr. McKenna Cup courtesy of an impressive points tally from Banagher’s Mark Lynch under the lights at Celtic Park last night.
Derry won the game by six points and Lynch was the standout performer amongst a convincing Oak Leaf panel who after scoring two goals in the first half, completely dominated Liam Bradley’s men.
Derry registered the first score of this semi-final when the talismanic Paddy Bradley linked up well with James Conway to poke the ball between the posts in the 2nd minute. Antrim replied almost immediately when corner-forward Paddy Cunningham converted a free kick from 20 yards away from goal.
Derry’s Mark Lynch regained the lead for the Oak Leafers when he took advantage of a loose ball to send a score high into the night sky and over the crossbar.
Brendan Herron scored an impressive point for the Saffrons when he collected a neat pass from Terry O’Neill in the 7th minute.
Derry’s James Conway and Antrim’s Paddy Cunningham exchanged scores in the 9th and 10th minutes respectively to pull both teams back to level pegging.
Antrim took the lead for the first time in the game in the 11th minute when Tony Scullion pointed with eased with an amazing 30 yard kick.
The Saffrons’ man of the moment Paddy Cunningham registered two further scores inside two minutes to extend his side’s lead to three points in the 15th minute.
Derry hadn’t registered a score for seven minutes until Mark Lynch added his second point of the game in the 16th minute when he sent a powerful left foot drive over the black spot.
Derry’s Sean-Leo McGoldrick continued the comeback for the Oak Leafers when he scored a tremendous goal in the 24th minute. After collecting a well paced fist pass from Declan Mullan McGoldrick glided across the face of Chris Kerr’s goal to blast the ball into the top right corner.
Mark Lynch added to an impressive first half performance when he scored from a central position to leave the score 1-05 to 0-6 to John Brennan’s men.
Derry scored their second goal in the 28th minute when a terrific threaded pass from corner-back Brian McCallion found the alert Paddy Bradley on the right. Bradley wasted no time and finished the ball along the ground and Kerr like a Premiership centre-forward.
Scores from Derry’s Conleth Gilligan and Sean-Leo McGoldrick finished off the first half for Derry before Conor McGourty registered the first Antrim score in 17 minutes just before the half time mark.
Derry wing-back Michael Drumm picked up where Sean-Leo McGoldrick left off in the first half when he collected a pass from Conleth Gilligan on the right to send an impressive point between the posts.
Antrim threatened some sort of resurgence half way through the second period but scores from Conleth Gilligan and Paddy Bradley maintained a six point lead for the Oak Leafers who ran out worthy winners.
Derry will meet the winners of the other semi-final between Cavan and Tyrone in the final.
DERRY: Michael Conlon; Brian McCallion, Gerard O’Kane, Dermot McBride; Michael Drumm (0-1), Barry McGoldrick, Aidan McAlynn; PJ McCloskey, James Conway (0-1); Declan Mullan, Sean Leo McGoldrick (1-1), Mark Lynch (0-4); Ciaran McGoldrick, Paddy Bradley (1-4 1f), Conleth Gilligan (0-3 2f).
Subsitutions: Niall Holly for Aidan McAlynn 49 mins.
Antrim: Chris Kerr; Colin Brady, Andy McLean, Dermot McCann; Tony Scullion (0-1), Anto Healey, Dean O’Neill; Brendan Herron (0-1), Justin Crozier; Terry O’Neill, Kevin Niblock, Mark Sweeney; Paddy Cunningham (0-7 5f), Mark Dougan (0-3), Conor McGourty (0-2).
Substitutions: Kevin Brady for Dermott McCann 53 mins; James Laverty for Tony Scullion 62 mins; Mark McAleese for Dean O’Neil; Eamon McNeil for Conor McGourty 65 mins.
REFEREE: Mr. Gavin Corrigan (Down).