Awesome Derry dismantle Tyrone to set up Ulster Championship semi-final against Monaghan

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Ulster Championship Quarter-final

Tyrone 0-10, Derry 1-18

How good Derry were against Tyrone? Well, just try naming a 'Man of the Match' to find out.

Was it the fantastic Conor Doherty? Probably. But, what about Gareth McKinless? Then, of course, you'd be ignoring Shane McGuigan's brilliant 1-04! And what about Niall Loughlin rubbishing the 'too reliant on McGuigan' taunts with a match defining 0-07? Did we mention Brendan Rogers' brilliance? Or Chrissy McKaigue doing a man marking job so tight he could have doubled as Darren McCurry's lycra under armour? What about Conor Glass? Paul Cassidy? Padraig McGrogan? Ethan Doherty?

Derry's Shane McGuigan scores a first half penalty against Tyrone at Healy Park on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: George Sweeney)Derry's Shane McGuigan scores a first half penalty against Tyrone at Healy Park on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry's Shane McGuigan scores a first half penalty against Tyrone at Healy Park on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: George Sweeney)

You get the picture.

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Derry's first Ulster championship victory since the 2015 quarter-final victory over Down was as deserved as it was emphatic. Rory Gallagher's team were simply superb as All Ireland and Ulster champions Tyrone were left shell shocked. And while the result might raise eyebrows around the country, the outcome won't have for any of the 10, 155 inside Healy Park to watch game Derry dominated from first whistle to last.

The match defining 60 seconds were undoubtedly those which saw Tyrone midfielder Brian Kennedy needlessly sent off for kicking out at McKinless only moments before Paul Cassidy was hauled to the floor by Niall Morgan for the penalty from which Shane McGuigan despatched Derry into a 1-07 to 0-04 lead, but don't let it fool you, Derry were already well in control. Indeed, they eventually cruised home for a victory reminiscent of the famous 2006 victory.

Missing out on promotion had some questioning this Derry panel going into the game but anyone who has watched this squad grow this season will know that day in Owenbeg was the exception rather than the rule for a squad who have been impressively building over two seasons now. They threatened it in 2019 against Armagh, even more so in Ballybofey last year against Donegal but finally Rory Gallagher's men have that marquee championship victory they graved.

Tyrone's Michael McKernan struggles to contain the run of Derry's Donor Doherty during the Oak Leafers superb Ulster Championship win in Healy Park. (Photo: George Sweeney)Tyrone's Michael McKernan struggles to contain the run of Derry's Donor Doherty during the Oak Leafers superb Ulster Championship win in Healy Park. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Tyrone's Michael McKernan struggles to contain the run of Derry's Donor Doherty during the Oak Leafers superb Ulster Championship win in Healy Park. (Photo: George Sweeney)

The first half could barely have gone better for Derry had Gallagher scripted it himself; a seven point interval lead, Tyrone down to 14 men and the Oak Leafers utterly dominant in every sector of the game.

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Fired up from the first whistle after a full blood warm-up that bordered on grievous bodily harm at times, Derry's game-plan played out perfectly over the 70 minutes but the game was won in the first 35. Deploying Chrissy McKaigue on McCurry and with Brendan Rogers eventually detailed on Cathal McShane, the Oak Leafers' deep lying counter attacking game swarmed all over the All Ireland champions who struggled to make any inroads.

Gareth McKinless started at midfield alongside Conor Glass and they dovetailed perfectly, acting as sweepers out of possession but McKinless especially driving forward at every opportunity alongside the brilliant Conor Doherty. Indeed, such was the Ballinderry man's brilliance that he was constantly targeted for special attention by the Red Hands but Kennedy's red card meant they never had the numbers to box up Derry's running game.

The tone for the game was set early, Frank Burns wasting a very scorable chance at one end before Conor Doherty strode forward to confidently split the posts at the other. Ethan Doherty's movement was causing all sorts of problems and when he was fouled, Niall Loughlin doubled Derry's lead from the free.

A Cathal McShane free and Ethan Doherty from play made it 0-3 to 0-1 on nine minutes with the dangerous McCurry and Benny Heron adding another each for their teams minutes later.

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Derry were well on top but owed a debt to keeper Odhran Lynch on 14 minutes when he stood up superbly to save well from Conor Meyler's fierce goal-bound shot. A goal at that stage may have kick started Tyrone. Instead, the miss summed up a frustrating Red Hand start that was about to get much worse.

A McShane free did make it 0-4 to 0-3 on 15 minutes but that was as close as Tyrone would get. From there on, the game was only about Derry.

A huge Conor Doherty score, a lovely McKinless effort and a Loughlin free had Derry at 0-7 to 0-4 when the crucial 26th minute arrived. Kennedy was barely down the tunnel after correctly petulantly kicking out at McKinless before the ball was nestling in the back of the Tyrone goal courtesy of McGuigan's left boot. There was no debate over the spot-kick either, Ethan Doherty's pass sending Paul Cassidy away and had he no been brought down he would have hit the net anyway.

Six points up, a man to the good and then the Derry fans were treated to the sight of McKinless' beautiful diving block on McShane before nonchalantly flicking the loose ball up into his hands, winning a free and clearing the danger.

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Derry's six point lead became seven thanks to Shane McGuigan's free and with a 1-08 to 0-04 interval lead, the only question left was could Derry manage the second half?

They could. And very impressively as well.

Another Niall Loughlin free got Derry up and running in the second half and at no stage did they look anything other than in total control. They probably should have scored more goals, resisting the temptation to shoot from distance at Niall Morgan's empty net simply because they didn't need to.

Possession was key and Derry simply didn't let Tyrone have enough of it to ever seriously threaten anything close to a comeback. Instead they passed around the Red Hands, waited for openings and picked off demoralising score after demoralising score with Loughlin particularly impressive.

The game was over long before the final whistle. Even a second needless red card for Tyrone failed to register much excitement as Conor McKenna this time was dismissed for throwing the ball back at Ethan Doherty after fouling him.

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The final whistle merely confirmed what Derry fans had been daring to believe since the opening minutes and Oak Leaf fans can now look forward to a semi-final date against Monaghan in two weeks time.

Tyrone scorers: Darren McCurry (0-4, 2f), Cathal McShane (0-2, 2f), Niall Morgan (0-1, 1 '45'), Darragh Canavan (0-2, 1f, 1m), Ronan McNamee (0-1),

Derry scorers: Shane McGuigan (1-4, 2f, 1pen), Niall Loughlin (0-7, 4f, 1 '45'), Conor Doherty (0-2), Ethan Doherty (0-1), Benny Heron (0-2), Gareth McKinless (0-1), Emmett Bradley (0-1, 1m)

Tyrone: Niall Morgan, Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee, Padraig Hampsey, Rory Brennan, Frank Burns, Niall Sludden, Conn Kilpatrick, Brian Kennedy, Conor Meyler, Peter Harte, Kieran McGeary, Darren McCurry, Cathal McShane, Conor McKenna. (Subs) Darragh Canavan for C McShane, HT; Michael O'Neill for F Burns, HT; Ben McDonell for R Brennan, 55mins; Cormac Monroe for N Sludden, 66mins; Michael Conroy for K McGeary,

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Yellow cards: M McKernan, 9mins; C McKenna 24 & 66mins; C Kilpatrick, 58mins; R McNamee, 70mins;

Red Card: B Kennedy, 26mins; C McKenna, 66mins;

Derry: Odhran Lynch, Christopher McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey, Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Glass, Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Shea Downey, Ethan Doherty, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin. (Subs) Emmett Bradley for N Toner, 55mins; Padraig Cassidy for Paul Cassidy, 63mins; Lachlan Murray for B Heron, 67mins; Paul McNeill for S Downey, 69mins; Ben McCarron for E Doherty, 69mins;

Yellow Cards: N Toner, 51mins; B Rogers, 55mins; E Bradley, 57mins;

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)

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