Derry 4-6 Tyrone 1-16: Derry boss Damian Barton was left bemused after a controversial second-half red card helped Tyrone to victory in an pulsating McKenna Cup clash before before 5,179 spectators at Owenbeg.
The game hinged on Ciaran Branagan’s decision to show Derry full-forward Emmett McGuckin a harsh 42nd minute second yellow card after he appeared to be hauled down by Tyrone sub Cathal McCarron.
Derry frustrations were then compounded when McCarron escaped further punishment for bringing Mark Lynch down for Derry’s second penalty of the game.
“The decisive point of the game was our full-forward getting sent off,”claimed the Derry manager, “Two men on the ground wrestling, I mean, what’s that all about? I thought they got a few easy frees and we would be concerned by their number of points but we’d also be concerned that favourites usually get the decisions. There were a couple of decisions that could have went our way and didn’t.”
Derry dominated the opening half in which Tyrone’s Justin McMahon received a black card for dissent. Goals from Benny Heron and a Ryan Bell penalty put Derry 2-04 to 0-01 ahead after 22 but Tyrone rallied with a Peter Quinn’s goal trimming the Derry lead to two points (2-4 to 1-5) at the break. The second half hinged on the red card which came with Derry leading 2-5 to 1-7 and handed Mickey Harte’s men an advantage they always looked likely to exploit. Tyrone forged into a 1-11 to 2-5 lead with midfielder Richard Donnelly giving a superb display with four points from play before Derry threatened to turn things around once more.
Bell’s second penalty and a well worked Mark Craig goal at the second attempt had Derry 4-6 to 1-13 in front with eight minutes left but the Oak Leafers eventually ran out of legs as Tyrone’s patient build up paid dividends.
Three McAliskey frees sealed the victory and left Tyrone on course for the last four with Barton left to rue McGuckin’s dismissal ahead of Wednesday’s game against Queen’s University which could yet take Derry through.
T Mallon; R Ferris, D McBride, O Duffy; D Heavron, C McKaigue, M Craig (1-1); E Bradley, M Lynch (0-2, 2f); C McFaul, C Bradley (0-1), B Heron (1-0); E McGuckin, R Bell (2-2, 2pen), C Murphy.
K McKaigue for O Duffy, 44; E Lynn for B Heron, 45; J Kielt for C Murphy, 52; C McAtamney for E Bradley, 56; S Mulgrew for C Bradley, 63; P Quinn for R Ferris, 65.
M O’Neill; A McCrory, P Hampsey, J Monroe (0-1); C Clarke, J McMahon, N Sludden (0-1); P McNulty, R Donnelly (0-4); D Mulgrew (0-1), P Harte (0-1), K McGreary; D McCurry (0-1), C McAliskey (0-5, 5f), P Quinn (1-0).
M Bradley (0-1, 1f) for C Clarke, H/T; C McCarron for P Hampsey, H/T; S Cavangh (0-1) for P Quinn, 41; R O’Neill for K McGreary, 51; C McShane for J Monroe, 72.
Ciaran Branagan (Down)
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