Four late Tyrone points ensure share of the spoils with Derry

Derry were denied a first NFL win of the season by Tyrone’s late surge at Healy Park.

Four late Tyrone points ensure share of the spoils with Derry

Tyrone 0-11 Derry 1-8

Derry were denied a first NFL win of the season by Tyrone’s late surge at Healy Park.

The Oak Leafers led by three points with four minutes to play, but were pegged back by a volley of Red Hand scores, including Darren McCurry’s stoppage time leveller.

Terence O’Brien came off the bench to fire home the only goal of the game eight minutes from the end as Brian McIver’s side finally found a way to break down a massed Red Hand defence.

But they were unable to hold on for the win after full back Niall Holly was sent off on a second booking.

Referee David Coldrick only gave the go-ahead for the action to proceed following a lengthy inspection of a pitch that had been battered by heavy rain throughout the afternoon.

The Oak Leafers, playing with the driving wind and rain in their backs, repeatedly came up against a massed Tyrone defence, with 15 white shirts parked inside their own 45 metre line.

After Colm Cavanagh had opened the scoring for Tyrone, Eoin Bradley, making his first Derry start in two years, levelled from a free.

Derry goalkeeper Eoin McNicholl came to his side's rescue with a fine save from Aidan McCrory, but the Red Hands went back in front when Connor McAliskey carved the opening for Sean Cavanagh’s first score of the evening.

But scores from Carlus McWilliams, a long range punt that hopped over the bar despite the sodden surface, followed by a Bradley gem from a tight angle saw the sides level by the half-hour mark.

Sean Cavanagh’s free sent Tyrone in with a 0-4 to 0-3 interval lead, but Derry began to find holes in the Tyrone rearguard after the restart, going level at the end of the third quarter, after substitute James Kielt had arrowed two frees between the posts and Benny Heron had found acres of space to slot over the equaliser.

Tyrone were struggling to break down an Oak Leaf attack that had Dermot McBride and Sean Leo McGoldrick in terrific form, and it was no surprise when they fell behind to McGoldrick’s 62nd minute point.

And a minute later the Red Hands were stunned when Emmet McGuckin sent Terence O’Brien in for a low finish to the net.

Derry lost full back Niall Holly to a second booking, and in the closing stages, with a touch of desperation but immense courage, Tyrone battled back with four late points to earn a draw.

Mattie Donnelly and PJ Lavery were on target, before McCurry held his nerve with a crucial free three minutes into stoppage time.

Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, R McNabb, J McMahon, P Harte, C Cavanagh (0-1), P McNulty, T McCann, M Donnelly (0-1), B Tierney, D McCurry (0-4, 4f), S Cavanagh (0-3, 2f), C McAliskey (0-1).

Subs: C McCann for McNulty (47), PJ Lavery (0-1) for McAliskey (54), C McShane for C Cavanagh (54)

Derry: E McNicholl, O Duffy, N Holly, D McBride, B Og McAlary, L Johnston, SL McGoldrick (0-1), M Craig, B Og McGilligan, C McWilliams (0-1), B Heron (0-1), E Lynn, D McKinless, E Bradley (0-2, 1f), B McGoldrick.

Subs: J Kielt (0-2, 2f) for B McGoldrick (17), M McIver (0-1) for McAlary (BC, 41), F Doherty for Craig (48), T O’Brien (1-0) for McKinless (48), E McGuckin for Kielt (58), L McGoldrick for McWilliams (68)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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