Brendan Rogers kicks Derry to dramatic league victory over Dublin in Celtic Park

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Allianz Leagues Division Two

Derry 1-11, Dublin 0-13

Some victories are worth more than two points. Some sow belief, some announce a contender and some underline potential.

When Brendan Rogers burst through a packed Dublin defence in the 75th minute of an absorbing match to send 12,000 Oak Leaf fans into footballing ecstasy, it was all of the above!

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Derry's Niall Toner is tackled by Tom Lahiff of Dublin. (Photo: George Sweeney)Derry's Niall Toner is tackled by Tom Lahiff of Dublin. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry's Niall Toner is tackled by Tom Lahiff of Dublin. (Photo: George Sweeney)

The fact it took Derry's match winner almost 30 minutes to get to the dressing room such was the clamour for photos and autographs tells you everything about what this result meant. It was breathless and it was brilliant, a far cry from the Dublin dominated opening but cherished all the more because of it.

Celtic Park at capacity is a spectacular sight but few inside the stadium would have envisioned a Derry victory at half-time. Arriving with critics lining up despite four wins from four, Dessie Farrell's men were superb but were helped by an off key home side who looked nervous. That changed second half, the introduction of Gareth McKinless key as Derry showed they deserve their billing among the genuine heavyweights of the game.

The dramatic finale also saw Michael Fitzsimons dismissed on a second yellow card as Derry made it five from five and outright top spot of the table.

Derry named the same 15 that coasted to victory in Newbridge six days earlier while for Dublin there was a first start for Eoin Murchan and the welcome sight of Brian Howard back among the substitutes.

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Not that it looked like Dessie Farrell's men would need their All Star as Cormac Costello split the posts inside 50 seconds.

The score was illustrative of a low Derry block which was meeting Dublin too deep, allowing men too far inside the scoring zone before they were being engaged and Dublin should have been further ahead than their 0-7 to 0-2 half-time lead.

Dublin mirrored Derry's defensive shape but crucially engaged further up the field while they visitors kick-outs were finding blue too easily.

The flip side to that was Derry left an easy 1-06 behind them. Niall Loughlin's 25th minute chance, finding himself clear on goal after giving Michael Fitzsimons the slip, should have been the opening goal but the Derry forward shot too close to David O'Hanlon, although Dublin missed chances too.

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As it was another effort from Costello, fisting Fenton's long range effort on to the bar and over, Lee Gannon, Con O'Callaghan and two from the imperious Fenton were just reward. Derry's only first half scores were points from Paul Cassidy and a Shane McGuigan free, the latter of which came on 15 minutes as the Oak Leafers turned around five down at 0-2 to 0-7.

Rory Gallagher's reaction to his team's first half display was to introduce McKinless for a first appearance since their league opener against Limerick, the half-back replacing Padraig Cassidy at the break and the second half saw an instant increase in the home side's intensity.

Despite Tom Lahiff opening the scoring, scores from Ethan Doherty and Loughlin (f) signalled Derry's improved approach.

Dublin were not about to roll over as illustrated by Lee Gannon's second of the day but McKinless had added both pace and aggression and his influence was critical as Derry grabbed the goal that brought them back into the game.

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Brendan Rogers started the move, handing off to McGuigan who spotted McKinless on his outside. Little looked on until McKinless hit the afterburners, burning a path along the inside right before picking out Niall Loughlin. The Greenlough man couldn't get his shot away but as the ball broke, Niall Toner was on it in a flash to crash home a crucial Derry goal to bring it back to 1-04 to 0-9.

It changed the game. Suddenly the pendulum had swung toward and Derry had the bit between their teeth.

A huge Conor Doherty point and another from Paul Cassidy brought Derry level but Dublin answered with a Ciaran Kilkenny point to edge back in front.

Oak substitute Oisin McWilliams showed his class with a superb score to tie proceedings but when Dublin replied through points from Colm Basquel and Kilkenny, they looked to have broken the Derry resolve. Not a chance!

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Two McGuigan frees levelled again before another sub, Lachlan Murray, kicked a wonder point to put Derry ahead for the first time on 69 minutes.

With four added minutes the 12,000 crowd was assured drama and once Cormac Costello leveled via a free they had it. First Fitzsimons was dismissed on a second yellow and then, with the stage set, the game needed a hero.

Step forward Slaughtneil's smiling assassin to split the posts. Had he hit the net, he many never have got off the Celtic Park pitch!

Derry scorers: Niall Toner (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-3, 3f), Paul Cassidy (0-2), Ethan Doherty (0-1), Niall Loughlin (0-1, 1f), Conor Doherty (0-1), Oisin McWilliams (0-1), Lachlan Murray (0-1), B Rogers (0-1)

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Dublin scorers: Cormac Costello (0-2), Lee Gannon (0-2), Con O'Callaghan (0-1), Brian Fenton (0-2), John Small (0-1), Tom Lahiff (0-1), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-2), Colm Basquel (0-1),

Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Eoin McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Conor Doherty, Padraig McGrogan, Padraig Cassidy, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin. (Subs) Gareth McKinless for E Doherty (blood sub), 35-HTmins; Gareth McKinless for Padraig Cassidy, HT; Oisin McWilliams for B Heron, 50mins; Lachlan Murray for N Toner, 58mins; Shea Downey for E McEvoy, 65mins; Niall Toner for N Loughlin, 73mins;

Dublin: David O'Hanlon, Daire Newcombe, Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon, James McCarthy, John Small, David Byrne, Brian Fenton, Tom Lahiff, Ciaran Kilkenny, Eoin Murchan, Lorcan O'Dell, Cormac Costello, Dean Rock, Con O'Gallaghan. (Subs) Niall Scully for L O'Dell, 43mins; Colm Basquel for T Lahiff, 54mins; Sean Lowry for D Rock, 57mins; Brain Howard for J McCarthy, 64mins;

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

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