Ulster SFC Quarter-Final
Tyrone 3-14 Derry 0-12
Tyrone did all the damage in an awesome first-half with three goals before half time to dispatch 13-man Derry with the minimum of fuss at Celtic Park.
Ronan O’Neill found the net twice in the opening 20 minutes with Peter Harte adding the killer third deep in first-half stoppage time to put the Red Hands through to a first Ulster SFC semi-final since 2012. Played in front of 12,011 in what was Mickey Harte’s first ever senior championship match as Tyrone manager in Derry, the game was already over as a contest by half-time with the visitors leading by 3-8 to 0-6.
The intensity of the early exchanges ebbed away each time Tyrone goaled and Derry went 21 minutes without scoring in the first half. Tyrone, safe in the knowledge it was game, set and match, coasted through the second half and it hardly mattered that they didn’t score for 18 minutes.
The Oak Leafers had two players sent-off in the closing 15 minutes. Ciaran McFaul went for a black card in the 55th minute, having been booked earlier, while captain Chrissy McKaigue went three minutes from the time for a straight red after a high tackle on Colm Cavanagh.
Derry settled well in the opening few minutes but Tyrone fired the first of many shots in the eighth minute with Ronan O’Neill’s opening goal. Richie Donnelly’s long ball in was caught by the Omagh man, who ghosted in behind marker Oisin Duffy, brilliantly dummied the ‘keeper and tapped the ball into an empty net.
Sean Cavanagh followed it up with a curling point but Derry recovered, Danny Heavron, Mark Lynch and James Kielt kicking long-range points of fabulous quality. Such was the defensive screen in the Tyrone defence that Derry were restricted to trying to shoot from well out the pitch.
Initially it worked with Lynch and Kielt’s memorable points and the home side closed to within a point, trailing 1-3 to 0-5 after Kielt’s free after 16 minutes. However Tyrone completely took control of the game in the second quarter, with O’Neill nailing a free before pinching a second goal after 20 minutes.
Mattie Donnelly set up Cavanagh, whose shot on the turn was brilliantly saved by Derry ‘keeper Thomas Mallon, but the rebound fell loose to the on-fire O’Neill who buried it low across the goal. While they had bounced back from the first goal, Derry’s resistance was broken with O’Neill’s second strike and the intensity slipped out of the contest with Tyrone doing what they wanted.
Mattie Donnelly, Connor McAliskey (free and a point) and Darren McCurry chipped over four points in four minutes. The spectacular long-range scores Derry had relied upon in the early stages dried up and they went 21 minutes without scoring until Karl McKaigue wormed his way through for a point in injury-time to reduce the gap to 2-8 to 0-6.
Just when Derry might have started to think about how to regroup for the second half, Peter Harte landed the killer blow with a third goal in the second minute of stoppage time. He burst through and played a one-two with Sean Cavanagh and rolled the ball right-footed into the net to leave it 3-8 to 0-6 at the break.
Damian Barton made switches bringing on Caolan O’Boyle and Ryan Bell, but it was too little too late. Faced with a mountain to climb, they could only manage a few points with Bell, Danny Heavron and Eoghan Brown reducing the deficit.
Darren McCurry, a first half replacement for the injured Mark Bradley, kicked 0-4 with Padraig McNulty and Jonathan Munroe also adding scores as Tyrone coasted through to a semi-final meeting with Cavan or Armagh on June 19.
Scorers for Derry – J Kielt 0-5 (4f), R Bell 0-2 (1f), D Heavron 0-2, E Brown, M Lynch, K McKaigue 0-1 each
Scorers for Tyrone – R O’Neill 2-2 (1f), D McCurry 0-4 (1f), P Harte 1-0, C McAliskey 0-2 (1f), S Cavanagh, M Donnelly, C McShane, R Donnelly, P McNulty, J Munroe 0-1 each
DERRY: T Mallon; O Duffy, B Rogers, K McKaigue; K Johnston, C McKaigue, G McKinless; N Holly, D Heavron; S Heavron, J Kielt, C McFaul; N Toner, E McGuckin, M Lynch.
Subs: D McBride for Duffy (28), R Bell for McGuckin (34), C O’Boyle for S Heavron (HT), E Brown for Lynch (40), G O’Kane for Johnston (46), C McAtamney for Holly (63).
TYRONE: M O’Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, N Sludden, P Harte; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McShane, M Bradley, R Donnelly; C McAliskey, S Cavanagh, R O’Neill.
Subs: D McCurry for Bradley (18), P McNulty for R Donnelly (49), J Munroe for McShane (53), P Hampsey for McCarron (61), K McGeary for Sludden (64), B Tierney for McAliskey (69).
REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath)