Tyrone 0-15 Derry 0-7
The All-Ireland champions marched on with a big Ulster SFC semi-final win over derby rivals Derry at Casement Park.
It was billed as the match of the championship, but this dour and at times rancorous contest fizzled out in the second half to a somewhat inevitable conclusion, with the Red Hand system overpowering the challenge of a weakened Derry outfit.
Damian Cassidy’s side scored just twice after the break, and their challenge died once they had corner back Kevin McGuckin sent off 10 minutes from the end.
With Kevin Hughes excelling at midfield and Justin McMahon snuffing out the threat of Paddy Bradley, the Sam Maguire Cup holders never looked like losing, and they will go into the Ulster final as hot favourites to defeat either Cavan or Antrim.
Hughes’ midfield dominance launched a series of Tyrone attacks, and three early Tommy McGuigan points, two of them from frees, eased the All-Ireland champions into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, after Barry McGoldrick had opened the scoring with Derry free.
Hughes was laying on a colossal midfield performance for the Red Hands, launching a series of attacks, but with Gerard O’Kane and the veteran Sean Marty Lockhart keeping a tight rein on Sean Cavanagh and Stephen O’Neill, Derry kept the danger men at bay.
But McGuigan and Martin Penrose stepped up to the mark with another volley of scores, and midway through the first half, Tyrone led by 0-5 to 0-2.
However a reshuffle by Oak Leaf manager Damian Cassidy had the desired effect, and scores from Eoin and Paddy Bradley, and substitute Seamus Bradley, kept them very much in contention
O’Neill did break free from Lockhart to punch over a point, and the inspired Hughes thumped over a mighty effort to send Tyrone in with a 0-8 to 0-5 interval lead.
Gerard O’Kane halted a couple of marauding runs by Sean Cavanagh as Derry started the second half with renewed purpose.
But the Oak Leafers just couldn’t manage to get Paddy Bradley into the game, and more than 10 minutes of pressure saw them fail to register a single score
Instead it was skipper Brian Dooher who came off the bench to shoot an inspirational Tyrone point.
The All-Ireland champions lost O’Neill and Joe McMahon to injury, but still, it was 20 minutes of untidy second half action before Derry got their first score, an Eoin Bradley effort.
Tyrone responded immediately with a point from wing back Davy Harte, and it all fell apart for Derry after defender Kevin McGuckin was red-carded after lunging at Sean Cavanagh immediately after the footballer of the year had fisted the point that made it double scores at 0-12 to 0-6.
The Red Hands clicked into top gear, Paddy Bradley was completely snuffed out by Justin McMahon, and Derry had nothing more to offer as an offensive force.
Tyrone finished the job off with points from substitutes Sean O’Neill and Brian McGuigan.
Tyrone: J Devine, PJ Quinn, Justin McMahon, R McMenamin, D Harte (0-1), C Gormley, P Jordan, K Hughes (0-2), E McGinley, M Penrose (0-3, 1f), T McGuigan (0-4, 3f), Joe McMahon, S O’Neill (0-1), S Cavanagh (0-1), O Mulligan.
Subs: B Dooher (0-1) for Mulligan (44), B McGuigan (0-1) for O’Neill (49), Sean O’Neill (0-1) for Joe McMahon (50), C McCullagh for T McGuigan (65)
Derry: B Gillis, K McGuckin, SM Lockhart, G O’Kane, C McKaigue, B McGuigan, SL McGoldrick, B McGoldrick (0-1, f), J Diver, E Browne, P Murphy, E Lynn, E Bradley (0-4, 1f, 1 ‘45’), P Bradley (0-1, f), M Lynch.
Subs: S Bradley (0-1) for Murphy (22), N McCusker for SL McGoldrick (54), C O’Boyle for Lynch (55)
Referee: G O Conamha (Galway)