McGuigan inspired Derry see off Louth to maintain Division Three promotion hopes

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Allianz National Football League, Division Three

Derry 2-10, Louth 1-09

A Shane McGuigan inspired Derry made it back to back Division Three victories by defeating Louth to keep alive hopes of promotion ahead of a mammoth trip to Cork next weekend.

The victory moves Derry into third as one of four counties on five points, three behind the Rebels, ahead of next Sunday's visit to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

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With the Celtic Park pitch difficult underfoot and a swirling winds blowing around the ground, this was never pretty from Rory Gallagher's men who eventually got the job done with something to spare as Louth finished with 13, and the home side 13, despite a game that was never over physical.

The disappointment for Gallagher and his management team will be a continued failure to build on positive situations for Derry. As with the victory over Tipperary, Derry had given themselves another platform from which to push on from following a brilliant start. However, just as they had done against Tipp, they allowed the opposition back into the game, only taking control in the closing stages with a late Niall Loughlin goal.

With the latest storm to hit the north west having thrown the potential venue for the game up in the air numerous times in the days building up to it, the Celtic Park pitch was eventually passed fit to play despite some noticeable Louth reservations as they took their pre-match stroll.

Having hosted Derry National Hurling League victory over Warwickshire 24 hours earlier, it was a credit to the ground staff that the pitch was in the condition it was but there was undoubtedly a number of patches which made football very difficult.

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Having seen both Cork and Down win the evening before, the Oak Leafers went into the game with no margin for error but Gallagher's men made a hugely impressive start against the strong breeze.

Louth looked disjointed in the opening minutes and were in early defensive disarray as Derry surged into a 1-03 to 0-01 lead after only six minutes with goalscorer McGuigan chief among the Oak Leaf attacking threats.

McGuigan finished the half with 1-04 but any early Oak Leaf optimism had been seriously eroded by that stage as Louth battled back to trail by only one point at 1-06 to 1-05 at the interval.

The catalyst to that comeback was a gift of a goal for Louth as keeper Odhran Lynch and Padraig McGrogan got themselves in a mix with the former's attempted pass intercepted by Ryan Burns who slid a pass for Declan Byrne to tap into an empty net.

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It was a needless blow, made even more bitter by the fact Derry had been denied a stonewall penalty at the other end seconds earlier when Padraig Cassidy was rugby tackled to the floor under the noses of both Sligo referee, Barry Judge and his umpire following a lovely Derry move.

It was the second time in the campaign, after Ciaran McFaul was denied a potential goal against Down, that what appeared an easy decision had cost Derry a sizeable points swing but thankfully this decision wouldn't have the same effect as did Padraig Hughes' that evening in Pairc Esler.

Benny Heron got proceedings underway with a lovely opening score inside the first minute with a Shane McGuigan free and another point trebling the tally in the opening five minutes.

In those early exchanges it appeared Derry would cut through the Louth defence every time they ran at the Leinster men and with six minutes on the clock, The goal Derry had been threatening arrived.

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Chrissy CMKaigue won the Louth kick out and sent a pass away toward Niall Toner who took a superb catch and turn in one movement to take him clear of the Louth defence. Once free, he drew the covering defender before sending a simple pass square to McGuigan who fisted into the empty net.

With Heron tagging on his second point for a 1-04 to 0-01 lead, Derry were in cruise control and looking good.

However, it would be 20 minutes until their next point as the inexplicably eased off and allowed Louth a foothold they hadn't looked like getting for themselves.

Ryan Burns was Louth's best player all afternoon and two points from him alongside a big Declan Byrne free meant only McGuigan's goal separated the sides by the 12th minute.

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Then came the Cassidy penalty shout which looked clear cut and happened at the feet of one of the umpires but incredibly nothing was given. Derry's mood wasn't helped seconds later when Lynch's wayward hand-pass, which was caught up by the wind allowed Burns in to set up Byrne for a goal out of nothing and suddenly the game was level at 1-04 a-piece.

Derry did rally with two more McGuigan points, one a free, either side of a Bevan Duffy point for Louth ensuring the home side had their half-time lead but it should have been so much more.

Upon the restart, Burns hit two frees to edge the visitors in front at 1-07 to 1-06 and Derry were looking nervous at best as the game became bogged down in the middle third with neither side able to fashion any real openings of note.

Indeed it took until the 53rd minute for McGuigan to equalise via another free only for Shea Doney to split the posts with a lovely score a minute later to re-establish Derry's lead.

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All the while, both sides were picking up yellow cards that would come back to haunt them but once in front, and with the fit again Loughlin introduced, Derry managed the game reasonably well even if it seemed a more direct route would have put the match to bed much earlier.

A move straight off the Slaughtneil training ground then saw McKaigue feed Brendan Rogers whose set off on a superb 50 yard run before off loading to McGuigan for another Derry score and finally Derry had some breathing space at 1-09 to 1-07.

The late flurry of cards, a harsh black for Padraig McGrogan, and second bookings for Rogers as well as Louth duo Gerard McSorley and James Craven, broke the game up further but it was Derry who adapted better with a second goal.

The clock had already ticked passed the 70 minutes when McGuigan sent a long ball forward. It was misjudged by both Derry and Louth players but the ever alert Toner reacted quickest to gather, advance toward goal and set up Loughlin for a carbon copy of the McGuigan goal.

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A late McGuigan free only added gloss to the scoreboard. It was never pretty but it was job done and a second league win which means Derry can travel south next Sunday in optimistic mood.

Derry scorers: Shane McGuigan (1-7, 4f), Niall Loughlin (1-0), Benny Heron (0-2), Shea Downey (0-1),

Louth scorers: Declan Byrne (1-2, 2f), Ryan Burns (0-6, 6f), Bevan Duffy (0-1),

Derry: Odhran Lynch, Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers, Carlus McWilliams, Shea Downey, Padraig McGrogan, Niall Keenan, Chrissy McKaigue, Ciaran McFaul, Emmet Bradley, Padriag Cassidy, Danny Tallon, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Niall Toner.

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(Substitutes) Niall Loughlin for E Bradley, 44mins; Patrick Kearney for D Tallon 52mins; Declan Cassidy for P Cassidy, 61mins; Conor Doherty for N Toner, 71mins; Conor McAtmaney for C McFaul, 73mins;

Yellow cards: B Rogers, 17 & 73 mins; B Heron, 34mins; C McWilliams, 36mins; C McFaigue, 39mins; P Kearney, 59mins; C McFaul, 71mins

Black Cards: P McGrogan, 65mins;

Red Cards: B Rogers 73mins;

Louth: Craig Lynch, Fergal Donohoe, Dermot Campbell, James Craven, Eoghan Callaghan,Bevan Duffy, John Clutterbuck, Conor Early, Tommy Durnin, Gerry Garland, Ciaran Downey, Conall McKeever, Ryan Burns, Declan Byrne, Conor Grimes.

(Substitutes) Osin Murray for G Garland, HT; Eoghan Duffy for C Downey, 52mins; Dan Corcoran for D Donohoe, 56mins; Gerard McSorley for C Grimes, 60mins; Ronan Holdcroft for C Early, 66mins;

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Yellow cards: J Craven, 26 & 77 minsmins; C Grimes, 42mins; C Early, 56mins; D Byrne, 65mins; Gerard McSorley, 65 & 70mins;

Red Cards: G McSorley, 70mins; J Craven, 77mins;

Referee: Barry Judge (Sligo)