Derry face Down in semi-finals after Lachlan Murray wonder point pins back Tyrone
Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup, Section B
Derry 0-10, Tyrone 0-10
Lachlan Murray's superb point SIX minutes into injury time secured Derry a deserved draw against Tyrone and set up a Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final against Down in Pairc Esler on Sunday.
Rory Gallagher's men trailed by four points after an indifferent opening half before finding themselves six behind two minutes into the second half and five behind with 18 minutes left before staging a superb late rally to rescue the draw that sent the Oak Leafers through as best runners up to join Tyrone, Down and Cavan and in the last four.
There were late red cards emanating from the same melee for Tyrone's Paudie Hampsey, for striking out at Padraig Cassidy, and Gareth McKinless after a second bookable offence but that was only the beginning of the drama. Once the dust settled on that one, the outcome were those added minutes which first saw Peter Harte uncharacteristically send a very scorable free wide. Had that split the posts Derry were out. As it was, there was time for one last attack out as the ball was moved out under the main Owenbeg stand.
When the ball arrived in Murray's hands, he had plenty to do but cutting in from the left on to his right foot, he showed just why his manager rates him so highly by holding off a Tyrone defender to send a wonderful curling shot high into the clear Dungiven night. When the ball landed Derry were in the semi-finals.
That finale was all a far cry from most of the game which proved a tense tactical battle in which Tyrone were set up to stifle Derry's running game and managed to do so quite effectively for periods. But Gallagher's Derry are made of strong and even without Chrissy McKaigue and their Glen contingent, they stayed in the game and battled back brilliantly to lay the foundation for the grand stand finish.
Niall Toner was an excellent outlet, winning and kicking some fantastic frees, while Paul Cassidy covered every blade of Owenbeg's expansive surface and continues to grow in stature with every game he plays. For Tyrone, Cathal McShane served noticed he was back to something like his best while Conn Kilpatrick was excellent throughout.
Gallagher made two changes from the side which defeated Fermanagh in Ederney on Sunday, Steelstown's Ben McCarron coming in for Anton Tohill and Newbridge's Mark Doherty coming in for his senior Derry debut with Chrissy McKaigue dropping to the bench.
They were strong line-ups from both counties, Derry still beginning with 10 of the side that started the Al Ireland semi-final back in July, but the opening exchanges rarely caught fire with only Shane McGuigan's fisted fourth minute point to show for the opening 12 minutes play. That was eventually cancelled out by Cormac Munroe, marauding forward to take a pass from Richie Donnelly to stroke over a decent score. From there Tyrone hit three in succession through a Niall Sludden ‘mark’, Conor Meyler and McShane to move into control.
Good work by McCarron reed up Toner to stop the rot and it was back to the minimum when Shane McGuigan pointed a frees but Tyrone were in charge and eased to a 0-7 to 0-3 advantage at the break.
Scores on the restart from Brian Kennedy and McShane (free) looked to have put Tyrone on their way to victory but they would score only one more point, a 52nd effort from McShane, over the remaining 39 minutes. In between, Derry took control.
Never panicking, it was a gradual probing of the Red Hand defences that finally yielded results as a Toner free and a superb Conor Doherty effort from range breathed new life in the Oak Leafers at 0-9 to 0-5. McShane's score couldn't turn the momentum and two frees, one each from McGuigan and Toner cut the deficit to three before Toner repeated the trick for 0-10 to 0-8 with 10 minutes left.
Brendan Rogers sent over a glorious effort to reduced the game to one point with four minutes left and the stage was set. The red cards were the aperitif to the main course, provided so superbly by Murray who looks to have a big season ahead of him
Derry scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-3, 2f), Niall Toner (0-4, 3f), Conor Doherty (0-1), Brendan Rogers (0-1), Lachlan Murray (0-1)
Tyrone scorers: Cormac Munroe (0-1), Niall Sludden (0-1), Conor Meyler (0-1), Cathal McShane (0-5, 2f), Richie Donnelly (0-1), Brian Kennedy (0-1),
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Mark Doherty, Eoin McEvoy, Conor McCluskey, Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan, Paul Cassidy, Brendan Rogers, Niall Toner, Padriag Cassidy, Niall Loughlin, Ben McCarron, Shane McGuigan, Lachlan Murray. (Subs) Oisin McWilliams for N Loughlin, 27mins; Declan Cassidy for M Doherty, 38mins; Anton Tohill for B McCarron, 42mins; Niall O'Donnell for D Cassidy (inj), 61mins.
Yellow Cards: G McKinless, 20 & 70mins; Padraig Cassidy 70mins; Red Cards: G McKinless, 70mins.
Tyrone: Benny Gallen, Nathan McCarron, Cormac Munroe, Paudie Hampsey, Cormac Quinn, Peter Harte, Niall Devlin, Brian Kennedy, Richie Donnelly, Conor Meyler, Conn Kilpatrick, Niall Sludden, Cathal McShane, Mattie Donnelly, David Mulgrew. (Subs) Michael McKernan for C Quinn, HT; Kieran McGeary for N Sludden, 43mins; Emmett McNabb for David Mulgrew, 59mins; Darragh Canavan for M Donnelly, 59mins; Frank Burns for R Donnelly, 72mins.
Yellow Cards: C Kilpatrick, 40mins; R Donnelly, 53mins; E McNabb, 71mins; Red Cards: P Hampsey, 70mins.
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)