Derry 1-18 Tyrone 1-12
Derry went on the rampage at Fortress Celtic Park, rolling Tyrone over to claim an impressive opening-day NFL win.
James Kielt and Eoin Bradley were the twin destroyers with a combined tally of 10 points, while Raymond Wilkinson chipped in with the decisive goal 22 minutes into the second half.
Tyrone were well off the pace for much of an interesting contest, and even a late Colm Cavanagh goal couldn’t save them from defeat.
It was former attacker turned centre back Mark Lynch who hit the game’s opening point, landing an excellent long-range effort.
And Damien Cassidy’s men followed up with points from Andrew McCartney and James Kielt to go three clear by the tenth minute.
Kyle Coney finally got Tyrone off the mark with a 12th minute opener,, but that was quickly cancelled out by Raymond Wilkinson.
However the Red Hands reeled off four points in the space of five minutes to go ahead.
Tommy McGuigan lofted over a point, which was followed by further efforts from Martin Penrose and Cassidy.
Penrose eased the visitors ahead in the 24th minute, but the lead lasted just seconds, instantly cancelled out by wing back Charlie Kielt.
The Oak Leafers pushed on, and a string of scores from Eoin Bradley - from a ’45 - Lynch, James Kielt and Wilkinson, had them four points to the good.
A Penrose free narrowed the gap, but Derry, with a 0-9 to 0-6 lead, were looking good at the halfway stage.
Things got even better for them when they reeled off the first three points of the second half, through O’Kane, lively substitute Declan Mullan and James Kielt.
And they had a golden goal chance when Fergal Doherty’s searing run opened up the Tyrone defence, but James Kielt’s attempted pass to the unmarked Seamus Bradley carried just too much weight.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte gave vent to his concern by making a treble substitution on 47 minutes, and his side rallied with a couple of Tommy McGuigan scores.
Now Fergal Doherty and James Kielt were hugely influential around the midfield area, and inevitably, Derry continued to prosper.
It was substitute Brian Mullan who drove the long ball into the danger area, and when the ball broke to Raymond Wilkinson, he scrambled to the net from close range in the 57th minute.
Kielt added his fifth point from a free, and now Derry led by nine points.
The Red Hands roared back for Colm Cavanagh to slide home a goal at the far post after Eoin McCusker’s shot had spun across the goal mouth.
The comeback was well and truly on when Penrose and McCusker hit the target to narrow the gap to four, but Derry held out for the two points and a flying start to their bid to reach a third successive NFL final.
Derry: B Gillis; B Og McAlary, G O’Kane (0-1), D McBride; C Kielt (0-1), M Lynch (0-2), L Hinphey; F Doherty, P Bradley; C O’Boyle, J Kielt (0-6, 6f), A Mc Cartney (0-1), S Bradley, E Bradley (0-4, 2f, 1 ’45), R Wilkinson (1-2).
Subs: D Mullan (0-1) for O’Boyle (32), B Mullan for S Bradley (48), J Diver for P Bradley (53), E Lynn for McCartney (67), B McGuigan for Wilkinson (68)
Tyrone: J Curran; M Swift, Justin McMahon, Joe McMahon; D Carlin, C Gormley, R McNabb; A Cassidy (0-1), K Hughes; K Coney (0-1), B McGuigan, E McGinley; C Cavanagh (1-0), M Penrose (0-4, 3f), T McGuigan (0-4, 2f).
Subs: E McCusker (0-1) for Coney (47), S O’Neill for McNabb (47), R McMenamin for Justin McMahon (47), D Harte for Swift (64)
Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).