Derry defeat Cork to make All Ireland semi-final for second successive year

All Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final
Derry senior football manager Ciaran Meenagh.  Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2321GS – 172Derry senior football manager Ciaran Meenagh.  Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2321GS – 172
Derry senior football manager Ciaran Meenagh. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2321GS – 172

Derry 1-12, Cork 1-08

Derry will compete in the All Ireland semi-finals for a second successive year after Conor Doherty's goal proved the match defining moment in a professional display against Cork in Croke Park.

Ciaran Meenagh's men were never quite at their best but still had enough in the tank to see off a stubborn Rebel side who lacked the necessary firepower to trouble the Ulster champions.

CRUCIAL . . .; Derry goalscorer Conor Doherty continued his habit of popping up with a crucial goal. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2321GS – 167CRUCIAL . . .; Derry goalscorer Conor Doherty continued his habit of popping up with a crucial goal. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2321GS – 167
CRUCIAL . . .; Derry goalscorer Conor Doherty continued his habit of popping up with a crucial goal. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2321GS – 167
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Not that Derry had it all their own way. Pegged back to a point at half-time, they looked to have regained control until a Rory Maguire goal on 47 minutes appeared to have kicked Cork right back into contention. It left one between the teams at 0-9 to 1-05 but Derry's response said everything about this team.

Shocked? Stunned? Not a bit of it. Less than 60 seconds later, a lightning quick break saw Derry's attack accelerator, Conor McCluskey, engineer space for Conor Doherty who sold a lovely dummy and finished like a seasoned forward.

The goal deflated Cork's bubble. And while they battled on gamely, this Derry side has learned to manage games and never looked in any danger of surrendering their lead and can look forward to a return to headquarters to face Kerry in two weeks' time.

Playing against a swirling breeze, Derry lost possession at the throw in and were forced to defend for a full three minutes as Cork passed and probed without ever looking able to penetrate the Oakleafers' disciplined defensive shape.

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The passage eventually ended with Steven Sherlock shooting wide but an uncharacteristic turnover conceded by Brendan Rogers seconds later eventually led to Colm O'Callaghan shooting Cork ahead on five minutes.

Derry were much more efficient with their attacks, a foul on an unusually quiet Shane McGuigan by marker Tommy Walsh giving the Slaughtneil man the opportunity to get Derry off the mark eight minutes in.

That free settled Meenagh's team who held Cork scoreless for the next 12 minutes as another McGuigan free, following a high tackle on McKinless, and Derry's first point from play from Ethan Doherty after a superb Conor Glass turnover had Derry 0-3 to 0-1 ahead by the 14th minute.

Derry restricted Steven Sherlock to only two 45s in the opening half and the first brought the deficit back to the minimum only for Paul Cassidy to score a lovely solo effort.

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And just like buses, as soon as one Paul Cassidy turns up, it was quickly followed by another, Ethan Doherty tagging on another excellent score to put Derry in the driving seat at 0-6 to 0-3. It should have been better as well as both Odhran Lynch and Glass saw efforts drop short and Cork tenacity would make them pay.

A second Shelock '45' and a fisted effort from Kevin O'Donovan right on the whistle gave the half a different complexion as the Rebels ensured only one would separate the sides at the break.

Cork started the second half as they had the first, and it took a brilliant Brendan Rogers hand to stop them fashioning a clear goal chance from throw in.

Derry responded with scores from Niall Loughlin and Ciaran McFaul, both opening their accounts for the day, to reassert a degree of control but they were fortunate seconds later when Brian O'Driscoll's radar was slightly off after an excellent late run took him into goal scoring territory.

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That miss was beginning to look costly when a push on McKinless by Cork substitute Eoghan McSweeney allowed McGuigan to extend the lead to 0-9 to 0-5, with Cork yet to score in the second period.

Maguire's goal then lit the touch paper, Conor Corbett doing superbly to keep the ball in, turn and pick out his team-mates' lovely deep run and Corbet applied to perfect fisted finished to bring it back to a one point game.

Derry's response was worthy of back to back Ulster champions. The kick-out secured, the Oakleafers countered at pace along the right, the move ending with Conor McCluskey's injection of pace opening the gap from which he picked out Conor Doherty, fast becoming a prolific championship goalscorer, and he applied the perfect low finish to the net to restore Derry's four point advantage with just over 20 minutes to play.

When McGuigan's free extended the lead to five, Derry had successfully wrestled back control. Not that Cork were about to lie down. The Rebels don't do submission as reinforcements arrived off the bench in the form of Brian Hurley and Chris Og Jones but Derry stood firm.

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Not only that, they should have extended their lead beyond the four points they eventually won by. Their biggest chance came from the spot after Conor Glass' sublime pass picked out McGuigan. The forward brilliantly got away from Tommy Walsh and looked set to find the net when he was hauled by by a retreating Matty Taylor who somehow avoided a black card.

And that wasn't the only let off as McGuigan's saw his penalty saved by a diving Míchéal Aodh Martin. It was academic. Derry were in the last four.

Derry scorers: Conor Doherty (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-4, 4f), Ethan Doherty (0-2), Paul Cassidy (0-2), Brendan Rogers (0-2), Niall Loughlin (0-1), Ciaran McFaul (0-1).

Cork scorers: Rory Maguire (1-0), Steven Sherlock (0-2, 2 '45'), Colm O'Callaghan (0-2), Ruairi Deane (0-1), Kevin O'Donovan (0-1), Chris Og Jones (0-1), Eoghan McSweeney (0-1).

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Derry: Odhran Lynch , Christopher McKaigue, Eoghan McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers, Niall Toner, Paul Cassidy, Ethan Doherty, Ciaran McFaul, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin. (Subs) Benny Heron for N Toner, 45mins; Lachlan Murray for N Loughlin, 55mins; Padraig Cassidy for C McFaul, 59mins; Shea Downey for E McEvoy, 65mins; Paul McNeill for E Doherty, 71mins.

Cork: Míchéal Aodh Martin, Maurice Shanley, Rory Maguire, Tommy Walsh, Kevin O' Donovan, Daniel O Mahony, Matty Taylor, Colm O'Callaghan, Ian Maguire, Brian O' Driscoll, Ruairi Deane, Killian O' Hanlon, Sean Powter, Steven Sherlock, Conor Corbett. (Subs) Eoghan McSweeney for for K O'Hanlon (inj), 39mins; Chris Og Jones for S Pewter, 50mins; Brian Hurley for S Sherlock, 55mins; John O'Rourke for B O'Driscoll, 58mins; Paul Walsh for R Deane, 66mins.

Yellow Cards: M Shanley, 12mins; M Taylor, 70mins.

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

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