Thornton the hat-trick hero as City of Derry hit Grosvenor for six in Ulster League

Kukri Ulster Qualifying League, Division One
City of Derry Head coach Richard McCarter. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2234GS – City of Derry Head coach Richard McCarter. Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2234GS –
City of Derry Head coach Richard McCarter. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2234GS –

City of Derry 38, Grosvenor 0

Killene Thornton was City of the hat-trick hero as City of Derry eased to a six try victory in their final home league fixture of the season.

Foyle College provided the perfect midweek venue and Derry put on a show for the intrepid souls who braved the cold, but only after playing second fiddle for most of the opening half. Derry's still harbour outside hopes of a qualifying spot in next season's All Ireland Junior Cup but for that to happen they must secure fifth. Even then, they are reliant on either Ballyclare of Clogher Valley going on to make it to the All Ireland League.

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That part of the equation is out of Derry's control. What isn't though is fifth and this was a huge step toward it ahead of a final day trip to CIYMS.

Derry will travel in confident mood but they didn't have things all their own way, despite what the scoreline suggests. Grosvenor sit ninth yet for 40 minutes they shaded exchanges and it took Thornton's first try on the stroke of half-time to put Derry in the ascendency.

By that stage Derry were seven up after David Lapsley's opening try. It began deep in the Derry '22 from where Alex McDonnell's clever chip gave scrum-half Jamie Millar the chance to kick on. Grosvenor won the race but Derry turned over possession and switched left where McDonnell threw a lovely dummy to dart inside and off-load for Lapsely to run in under the posts.

The try was the cue for a period of dominance, only it was Grosvenor who pinned Derry back with only superb home defence stopping the Belfast men.

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Those seven points looked like being the sum total of the half until Derry won a scrum against the head in added time. Again they went left where this time Davy Graham proved the architect, opening up Grosvenor for full back Thornton to apply the perfect finish for a 12-0 interval lead.

Half-way to their bonus point, it didn't take long for Derry to secure it and Thornton was at the heart of everything. Only 60 seconds after the restart, the young full-back accepted Millar's pass and break the Grosvenor resolve with a try converted by McDonnell.

Ten minutes later a lovely Derry line-out provided the platform for a great drive from which Cathal Cregan peeled off to score Derry's fourth. There was still time thought for the hat-trick with Thornton owing his final try to Millar who put it on a plate for 33-0. And Derry weren't finished with Stephen Corr getting his reward for another brilliant night's work by running in Derry's sixth.

With the League Cup still to come, Derry have an opportunity to finish the season strongly and on this form, they are more than capable of doing just that.

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City of Derry: Fearghus Canning, Cathal Cregan, Adam Marley, Gerard Doherty, Aaron Deery, Tiernan Thornton, Dara Gill, Stephen Corr, Jamie Millar, Alex McDonnell Colm Cregan, David Lapsely, David Graham, Ian Bratton, Killene Thornton

Grosvenor: Micah Stevenson, Mike Smyth, James Simms, Stuart Smyth, Michael Baird, Neil Adams, Jamie McMullan, James McMaster, Johnny Allen, Timothy Emerson, Ben Johnston, Timothy McMullan, Jack Kennedy, Lewis Young, Jack Breen.

Referee: Josh Burgess

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