Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

EirGrid Ulster U20 Final: Derry v Tyrone – Match Preview, Team Lineouts, Pivotal Players

May 1st, 2024

Derry v Tyrone

Box-It Athletic Grounds, 5.15pm (Live on TG4 YouTube)

Referee: Diarmuid Boylan (Muineachán)

In the eyes of many, both of this evening’s teams would have been ear-marked as front-runners from the competition’s outset. 

They have been frequent contestants for the Donall Ó Murchú Cup in recent years. Tyrone are back in the decider having won in 2022, while Derry have returned to atone for defeat in last year’s final against Down. 

Medals are in no short supply in either dressing room. The past four Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Championships have ended up in these two counties – Derry in 2020 and 2023, Tyrone in 2021 and 2022 – which gives you a taste of the dominance these groups of players have had on the provincial scene. 

Tyrone’s team features several survivors from their All-Ireland U20 winning side from two years ago, while a number of players also hold at least one Hogan Cup medal from Omagh CBS’ back-to-back successes in recent seasons. 

Derry’s pedigree meanwhile is augmented by All-Ireland glory which followed both those Minor provincial crowns in 2020 (played out a year later due to Covid) and 2023.  

They both had tough assignments last Wednesday to take their place here this evening. Tyrone were pushed right to the end by Monaghan in Omagh, with goals from Cormac Devlin and Ronan Fox either side of half-time keeping their noses in front to see off a valiant Farney challenge by a single point.  

Up in Ballybofey, Derry had to fight back from being three points in arrears at the midway stage against Donegal. A super Oisín Doherty goal got them back into the ascendancy, only for Donegal to be pull back level deep into injury time. The game looked to be heading for extra-time, but one last drive downfield saw Ryan McNicholl get the priceless winning point with the game’s final kick. Ecstasy for Derry, agony for Donegal. 

Indeed, a similarly close finish played out when the two teams met in Round Three of the group stages at Celtic Park a month ago. With both sides possibly cognisant they’d be facing off again somewhere further down the line, a tense tactical battle ensued with very little given away on either side, five apiece at half-time.  

Soon enough though the contest would open up to offer more flair and excitement, with the Red Hands in front going into the closing ten minutes protecting a three-point lead, only for Johnny McGuckian to race past a few tackles and smash home a goal in the 63rd minute. There was still time however for Tyrone’s Gavin Potter to punch over a winning point in a dramatic finish.  

With all that in mind, there will be very little between the teams again this evening as the cream of the crop in Ulster U20 football face off once again. 


  1. Callum Armstrong
  2. Fionn McEldowney
  3. James Murray
  4. Rory Small
  5. Conleth McGrogan
  6. Patrick McGurk (C)
  7. Danny McDermott
  8. Ruairi Forbes
  9. Conall Heron
  10. Cahir Spiers
  11. Ryan McNicholl
  12. Johnny McGuckian
  13. Niall O’Donnell
  14. Eoin Higgins
  15. Oisin Doherty
  16. Ben O’Connor
  17. Tommy Rogers
  18. Odhran Murphy
  19. Rory McGill
  20. Sean Young
  21. Shea McCann
  22. Ronan Walls
  23. Ciaran Chambers
  24. Dara McPeake


  1. Conor McAneny
  2. Joey Clarke
  3. Ben Hughes
  4. Conor Devlin
  5. Shea O’Hare
  6. Michael Rafferty (C)
  7. Ódhrán Brolly
  8. Ronan Fox
  9. Conor O’Neill
  10. Cormac Devlin
  11. Eoin McElholm
  12. Gavin Potter
  13. Ruairí McCullagh
  14. Ronan Cassidy
  15. Callum Daly
  16. Conan McGarvey
  17. Fiachra Donnelly
  18. Paddy McCann
  19. Noah Grimes
  20. Conor Owens
  21. Liam Óg Mossey
  22. Hugh J Cunningham
  23. Ronan Donnelly
  24. Callan Kelly

Pivotal Players 

DerryFionn McEldowney 

The Slaughtneil dynamo this year joined an elite group of players to be selected for Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ All-star teams in hurling and football, two years in a row. 

He captained the Derry Minor footballers to Ulster and All-Ireland football titles last summer, and stepped in to skipper this year’s team in the early rounds when regular captain Patrick McGurk was unavailable.  

McEldowney possesses many traits of an elite defender – dynamic, tenacious, whippet-quick, and despite his relatively diminutive stature, more than capable of tussling for possession with more physically imposing opposition.  

His mentality and game intelligence though are what really sets him apart. He is a tremendous reader of the game, and also displays excellent positioning, distribution of the ball, and a willingness to drive forward when the opportunity is presented. Victory this evening would add another accolade to an already illustrious fledgling career. 

TyroneEoin McElholm 

While Tyrone’s attacking department is stacked with talent, McElholm is the spark at centre-forward who carries the greatest threat. A supreme score-getter, he has a particular knack for delivering the goods on the big days. 

He will be well known to this evening’s Derry opponents, having netted two goals against them in Tyrone’s 4-08 to 0-16 win in the Ulster Minor Football Championship final two years ago. 

The Loughmacrory ace was one of the stars of that Tyrone team that secured back-to-back Ulster Minor titles (captaining the second one), and he was outstanding for school Omagh CBS blazed their way to winning the MacRory and Hogan Cups last year. 

His rising star status was noticed by AFL scouts when he was invited for a two-week ‘combine’ last September, recording a particularly impressive sprint test time ranked in the top 10 to further outline his athletic prowess.  

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