14-man Derry minors sweep Dublin aside to set up Ulster derby in All Ireland Minor final

Tommy Rogers was in superb form as Derry defeated Dublin to make the All Ireland Minor final.Tommy Rogers was in superb form as Derry defeated Dublin to make the All Ireland Minor final.
Tommy Rogers was in superb form as Derry defeated Dublin to make the All Ireland Minor final.
All Ireland Minor Football Semi-final

Derry 3-11, Dublin 1-08

You could easily run out of superlatives when talking about the Derry minor vintage of 2023.

We shouldn't be surprised at this point but even by their own remarkable standards, outscoring a traditionally free-scoring Dublin by 3-03 to 0-03 over the final 25 minutes of an All Ireland minor final is some feat. To do with with only 14 men is outstanding!

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It means Derry will appear in their third All Ireland minor final in seven years, a second in three years, and it will be an all Ulster affair as the Oakleafers face old foes Monaghan for a fourth time this season.

That's in two weeks, by which time the euphoria should just about have died down from this one. Make no mistake about it, Derry were staring down the barrel in the Athletic Grounds. They lost keeper Jack McCloy after an incident in the tunnel at half-time, left them with 14 men for the whole second half.

The Oakleafers had been in control at the break, leading 0-7 to 0-4 but a man short the Leinster champions took only six minutes to draw level after the break. It was stick or twist time for Derry but, as they have done all, season, when those questions were asked, the Oakleafers found the answers with every man stepping up to the plate.

James Sargent and Johnny McGuckin were brilliant, the former's 36th minute penalty kick-starting Derry back into gear and Dublin simply had no answer to the Oakleaf onslaught. And it wasn't just the intensity which was impressive. Derry managed the game with a level of maturity that spoke of a team confident in it's own ability.

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Further goals from corner back Luke Grant and an audacious chip from the excellent Cahir Spiers in injury time rubber stamped a breathtaking second half to set up that fourth meeting of the season with Monghan in two weeks.

The Leinster champions almost had the perfect start in an opening half in which both team should have had at least two goals a-piece. With barely 30 seconds on the clock Dublin broke through down the right, Noah Byrne finding himself in space only yard from the Derry goal before pulling his shot inches wide of the near post.

With play brought back for an earlier foul, Lenny Cahill's free was some consolation but the tone had been set. This was shoot-out territory.

Within three minutes James Sargent was watching his goal bound effort be brilliantly blocked by Dublin keeper Cillian Murray as Derry passed up a gilt edged opportunity. Again a point, this time from Eamon Young was the consolation and when Ger Dillon tapped over a free seconds later the Oakleafers were a point up four minutes in.

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Luke O'Boyle equalised through a lovely '45' but it was clear Damien Fennelly's men were going for goal at every opportunity.

Oisin Doherty and Byrne swapped point for 0-3 apiece before Derry once again failed to capitalise on a lovely team move. This time it was John Boyle, starting in place of Conall Higgins, at the tip of the spear but once again Murray was quick off his line to block, with Sargent sending over the resultant '45'.

Two Dillon frees had Derry leading 0-6 to 0-3 by the 24th minute but in between Byrne had another clear sight of the Derry goal, his effort this time cannoning off the base of the Oakleaf upright before being cleared.

Ryan Mitchell's huge score narrowed the deficit to two but Derry had the last say of the half, a lovely Tommy Rogers point from the right ensuring the Ulster champions went in with their three point lead intact at 0-7 to 0-4.

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There was controversy before a ball was kicked in the second half when Derry keeper Jack McCloy was red card for an altercation in the tunnel, forcing the Oakleafers into a reshuffle that saw Boyle withdrawn and substitute keeper Karl Campbell introduced for a first appearance since the league final defeat to Donegal. Stepping in, Campbell was superb with both his handling and his kick-outs.

The confusion handed Dublin the initiative and they seized it. Wiping out Derry's advantage inside six minutes thanks to a Mitchell point and a goal with his first touch from substitute Shane Mullarkey.

At 0-8 to 1-05, Dublin had all the momentum but Derry were about to show just why they were Ulster champions as they rallied to set up a mouthwatering meeting with Monaghan in two weeks.

Derry scorers: James Sargent (1-1, 1 '45'), Luke Grant (1-0), Cahir Spiers (1-0), Ger Dillon (0-5, 5f), Eamon Young (0-3), Oisin Doherty (0-1),Tommy Rogers (0-1)

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Dublin scorers: Shane Mullarkey (1-0), Lenny Cahill (0-4, 4f), Luke O'Boyle (0-1, 1 '45'), Noah Byrne (0-1), R Mitchell (0-2),

Derry: Jack McCloy, Fionn McEldowney, Finbar Murray, Luke Grant, Cahir Spiers, James Sargent, Odhran Campbell, Tommy Rogers, Cahal McKaigue, Eamon Young, Ger Dillon, Johnny McGuckin, Rory Small, John Boyle, Oisin Doherty. (Subs) Karl Campbell for J Boyle, HT; Deaglan McNamee for O Doherty, 58mins; Kevin B Mullan for J McGuckin, 32mins;

Yellow Card: J McGuckin, 33mins; F McEldowney, 49mins. Red Card: J McCloy, HT;

Dublin: Cillian Murray, Sean Keogh, Cillian Emmett, Jack O'Sullivan, Joshua Young, Eoghan Costello, Ryan Mitchell, Senan Ryan Alex Carolan , Patrick Coleman, Luke O'Boyle, Noah Byrne, Paddy Curry, Harry Curley, Lenny Cahill. (Subs) Andrew O'Reilly for P Coleman, 29mins; Shane Mullarkey for S Ryan, 35mins; Ciaran O'Connor for J Young, 50mins; Colin McAweeney for H Curley, 52mins Ben Kennedy for J O'Sullivan, 52mins;

Yellow Cards: R Mitchell, 28mins; S Mullarkey, 38mins; S Keogh, 45mins;

Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)

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