Derry spot on against Dublin to clinch Division One title in Croke Park

​Five years and one day after winning Division Four, Derry’s league renaissance was complete as the Oak Leafers were crowned Division One champions following a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Dublin in Croke Park on Sunday.
DELIGHT: Mickey Harte. Photo: George SweeneyDELIGHT: Mickey Harte. Photo: George Sweeney
DELIGHT: Mickey Harte. Photo: George Sweeney

​It was a final that had everything – goals, misses, red cards, fightbacks, controversy and a rampaging full-back who hit 2-02! If this league season has been the appetiser for what awaits in the championship, then bring it on!

Where to start with a game Derry seemed to have won on at least three occasions before Shane McGuigan, Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty’s penalties, coupled with more shoot-out heroics from Odhran Lynch, saw the Oak Leafers claims a first top flight title since 2008.

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It’s a victory that should confirm within the Derry panel what everybody outside it has been saying all season. While league football guarantees you nothing, this Derry team is good enough to push for ‘Sam’.

A classic started with Derry in the ascendency as McGuigan shot Derry into an early two point lead and by the 14th minute Harte men were 0-5 to 0-3 ahead before the game’s opening goal which had a touch of fortune. Killian McGinnis’ short attempt was met by the fists of Lynch only for the clearance to land perfectly for Colm Basquel to fire home and the sides remained deadlock at half-time, 1-7 to 0-10.

Dublin hit the front upon the restart with two quick points before a brace of Derry goals turned the game, McGuigan despatching a penalty after a push on Doherty before the excellent Eoin McEvoy stormed through to slam home a sublime goal and hand Derry a four point lead following Niall Loughlin’s point.

It was a lead Derry looked likely to hold until McMahon and McGarry cut the deficit and referee Lane controversially adjudged Murphy was impeded, allowing O’Callaghan’s injury time to take the game to extra-time.

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Niall Toner and Killian O’Gara swapped points in the opening half of extra time before another McEvoy rocket looked to won it for Derry. Dublin though, even with Brian Fenton red carded, somehow brought themselves backonce more as one last, long ball in found its way to Greg McEneaney who buried the chance. Paddy Small was dismissed in the pandemonium that followed but to penalties it went. And Derry’s title….

Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey, C McKaigue, D Baker; C Doherty (0-1), E McEvoy (2-2), P McGrogan; C Glass (0-2, 1 ‘45’), B Rogers (0-1); E Doherty (0-1), C McFaul, P Cassidy; N Loughlin (0-2), S McGuigan (1-4, 1pen, 0-2f), L Murray (0-3, 1m). (Subs) G McKinless for McGrogan (HT), N Toner (0-2) for McKinless (52), C Murphy for Loughlin (66), D Gilmore for P Cassidy (70), E Bradley for Murray (77), D Cassidy for McKaigue (81), E Mulholland for C Doherty (88).

Dublin: E Comerford; S MacMahon (0-1), C Murphy (0-2), E Murchan; J Small, B Howard (0-1), Tom Lahiff (0-2); B Fenton, K McGinnis (0-1); Ross McGarry (0-2), S Bugler (0-1), C Kilkenny; N Scully (0-1), C O’Callaghan (0-5, 5f), C Basquel (1-1) (Subs) P Mannion (0-1) for McGinnis (52), P Small (0-1) for Basquel (57), L O’Dell for Scully (57), K O’Gara (0-2) for McGarry (70), T Clancy for Murchan (80), C O’Connor for MacMahon (81), G McEneaney (1-0) for Bugler (86).

Referee: C Lane (Cork).

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