Derry dismantle Cork in Owenbeg to make it three Division Two wins from three

Allianz Leagues, Division Two

By Michael Wilson
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 7:36 pm

Derry 1-13, Cork 0-07

Derry's promotion bid took a major step forward as Benny Heron's second half goal made it three Division Two wins from three as Cork were dismissed by nine points at Owenbeg on Sunday.

The result maintains Derry's perfect league start and means the Oak Leafers have now won 10 successive league wins, a run stretching back to 2020 with their last defeat coming, ironically, against Cork in Division Three.

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Derry forward Shane McGuigan scores one of his eight points against Cork in Owenbeg this afternoon. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Billed as Derry's toughest test yet, it proved a relatively comfortable afternoon for the home side with Shane McGuigan hitting 0-8 and Chrissy McKaigue holding Cork dangerman Brian Hurley scoreless on a day when Stephen Sherlock accounted for five of Cork's seven scores.

Gallagher's men were already in charge but the game was won in 30 second half seconds when Odhran Lynch produced a superb stop from joint Cork captain Brian Hurley, diving low to his right to keep out the Castlehaven's men's fierce shot six minutes into the second period.

A goal then would have brought Cork to within a point of Derry. Instead, less than 30 seconds later, the ball was in the back of the Rebels' net as a lightning quick Derry break saw Chrissy McKaigue and McWilliams swap passes before the latter's shot was superbly saved by Chris Kelly in the Cork goal. Unfortunately for the Rebels' No. 1 Benny Heron was up in support and fired the rebound straight back into the unguarded net for a 1-07 to 0-3 lead Cork never looked like clawing back.

It was a six point swing and confidence booster that under pinned Derry's control, giving Gallagher's men the cushion they needed to finally wrestle control from a Cork team that were unable make much headway against an intense Oak Leaf backline.

Derry were forced into a pre-match change when playmaker Ciaran McFaul failed a late fitness test on a hamstring injury, meaning Oisin McWIlliams came into the starting line-up of an otherwise settled Oak Leaf side.

Keith Ricken meanwhile was able to call on his St Finbarr's contingent for the first time this season with Billy Hennessey, Ian Maguire and Stephen Sherlock all restored to the Rebels' starting 15.

And it was Sherlock who grabbed the opening score of the days via a first minute free after Conor Glass' pass inside had caught Brendan Rogers out, allowing Brian Burley to nip in and draw the foul.

With a number of other league fixtures falling foul of Storm Eunice's wrath, the Owenbeg pitch was in decent condition, even if the wind and rain made handling and passing treacherous at times. That was reflected in a tight opening half in which neither side was keen to waste possession and more reluctant still to take a chance with shooting.

The visitors used Sherlock and Hurley inside with runners flooding forward in support but Ricken's side found the Oak Leaf defensive system a tough nut to crack in the opening 37 minutes with only Daniel Dineen's lovely score and another Sherlock free with the last kick of the half to show for their first half efforts.

The Rebels did waste a gilt edged goal chance on the half hour mark when Sean Meehan found himself in on goal but elected to pass to Colm O'Callaghan inside. O'Callaghan wasn't expecting the disguised pass and in his surprise inexplicably touched the ball on the ground only yards from the Derry posts and the chance was gone.

Derry managed marginally better in the conditions with Shane McGuigan once again their go-to man, the Slaughtneil player hitting four of Derry first half tally of five. Rory Gallagher's men bossed possession for long periods with Paul Cassidy, Padraig McGrogan and McWilliams working well in a congested middle third.

McGuigan opened Derry's account with a sixth minute free and added a second with a lovely score on 14 minutes but Derry were guilty of over playing at times as they sought to pick a path towards engineering a goal.

McGuigan's third score, coming after a quickly taken home free was followed by that Dineen point for 0-3 to 0-2 on 27 minutes. Lachlan Murray and another McGuigan free increased the home tally but Sherlock had the last say of the half as the side turned around with the home side leading 0-5 to 0-3.

Derry second half intent was evident within 30 seconds of the restart as Conor Glass won possession and slipped McWilliams through only for the Swatragh man to be fouled, allowing McGuigan to tap over the resultant free for a three point lead.

That lead was four was Emmett Bradley capped a fine solo run and dummy with the finish it deserved four minutes later for 0-7 to 0-3.

Then came the 30 seconds which defined the match. It confirmed Derry's superiority killed off Cork's challenge. The question now was only about the margin of victory as Loughlin, McGuigan and McWilliams all added scores while Matthew Downey saw a late goal chalked off for a square ball.

The Cork heads never dropped which will give Ricken some hope for a tough test at home to Galway next week but they'll ned more from a front line that was dominated by a superb Derry defence.

For the Oak Leafers, this victory and more specifically the manner of the win underlines why Gallagher's men can now set their sights on challenging for a place in the top flight. It will be anything but easy but Derry look up for the promotion fight.

Derry scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-8, 5f), Benny Heron (1-0), Lachlan Murray (0-1), Emmett Bradley (0-1), Niall Loughlin (0-1), Oisin McWilliams (0-1), Padraig McGrogan (0-1),

Cork scorers: Stephen Sherlock (0-5, 4f), Daniel Dineen (0-1), Kevin O'Donovan (0-1).

Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey, Ethan Doherty, Ethan Doherty, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Conor Glass, Emmet Bradley, Paul Cassidy, Niall Loughlin, Oisin McWilliams, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Lachlan Murray. (Subs) Niall Toner for L Murray, 41mins; Matthew Downey for N Loughlin, 56mins; Ben McCarron for B Heron, 59mins; Shea Donwey for E Bradley, 63mins;

Yellow cards: P McGrogan, 13mins; Padraig Cassidy for O McWilliams, 52mins;

Cork: Chris Kelly, Kevin O'Donovan, Sean Meehan, Tadhg Corkery, Rory Maguire, Billy Hennessy, Mattie Taylor, Ian Maguire, Shane Merritt, Colm O Callaghan, Fionn Herlihy, Daniel Dineen, Stephen Sherlock, David Buckley, Brian Hurley. (Subs) John O'Rourke for D Buckley, 41mins; Kevin Flahive for B Hennessey, 49mins; Daniel O'Connell for S Merritt, 52mins; Cian Kiely for R Maguire, 59mins; Blake Murphy for F Herlihy, 59mins

Yellow cards: T Corkery, 55mins;

Referee: James Molloy (Galway)