TYRONE 2-20 DERRY 2-20
ONE of the best displays from this Tyrone hurling team during the past few years saw them earn a fully deserved result which will provide them with plenty of confidence as they bid to make a mark at this higher level in the Christy Ring Cup.
Victory was within reach for the Red Hands as they led narrowly on Sunday at Healy Park thanks to a goal from Sean Og Grogan. It came midway through a second half which saw them battle back from an eight point interval deficit.
Just minutes had elapsed when Derry hit the net for the first time. A long ball into the danger area from Daire Kelly was latched onto by John Mullan who ran through before unleashing a great shot to the net. A point shortly after from James Friel extended their lead and they looked capable of building further on that advantage.
Good work from Ruairi Devlin, Dermot Begley and Chris Kearns settled them and they were soon back on track on the scoreboard as well. Sean Duffin set up Aidan Kelly for a well-taken score and then Sean Og Grogan fired over to leave just two between the teams approaching the end of that first quarter.
It continued to be score for score as the half progressed, and there were some good touches from both counties. Sean Duffin, Rory Weir and Ruairi Slane made their mark in the Tyrone attack as the tie remained tightly contested.
While Dermot Begley and a great long range point from Fionn Devlin kept the Red Hands in touch, they just couldn’t get level. Instead, with Eamon Conway and Paddy Kelly leading the way for the Oak Leafers at midfield, they were poised to take even greater control.
A critical point in the game arrived in the 10 minute spell at the start of that second quarter. Six points in a row for Derry saw them establish a commanding lead. Their dominance at this stage was built on the half-back dominance of Sean Cassidy, Richie Mullan and Meehaul McGrath. What followed were a series of quick-fire scores.
Cormac O’Doherty got them going, then Richie Mullan recorded a brace, before Eamon Conway left them 1-8 to 0-5 ahead. They weren’t finished yet, too, and Darragh McGilligan and Richie Mullan left them enjoying an eight point, 1-10 to 0-5 lead.
Tyrone’s only response was a Dermot Begley pointed free. However, the challenge facing them was abundantly clear as they entered the interval break 1-11 to 0-6 ahead, with Cormac O’Doherty firing over to emphasis the Derry control, and leave Tyrone needing an urgent response to retrieve matters on the resumption.
It was a fired-up Tyrone who emerged for that second half and they were soon making serious inroads into the healthy Derry lead. Their revival was spearheaded by the efforts of Conal and Fionn Devlin and Chris Kearns while up front Aidan Kelly, Sean Duffin and Rory Weir upped the tempo considerably.
Pointed frees on quick succession from Dermot Begley got them firmly back on track. He fired over a trio of placed balls to reduce the deficit and ensure that Tyrone were firmly back in contention.
Now they were really battling effectively, and well-placed passes from the defence meant that they were creating clear-cut scoring opportunities. It was one of these which led to the goal which had the potential to really transform their bid for victory.
Chris Kearns won possession at midfield before firing a long range pass into the increasingly influential Lorcan Devlin. He won the ball, before turning, making space for himself and hitting the net. That left just a point between the teams, 1-12 to 1-11, and ensured that the tie was now very much back in the balance.
Moments later Sean Duffin brought the teams level at 1-12 each, but Tyrone were living on the edge when Liam Dunphy was dispossessed coming out. A foul resulted in a penalty for the visitors, with Cormac O’Doherty converting the resulting shot to re-establish the Oak Leaf advantage.
But from that moment on there was only going to be a small margin between either side.Points from Dermot Begley left the minimum between the teams again, and it remained very tightly contested from then until the finish.
Derry held the edge, and scores courtesy of John Mullan and Mark Craig were cancelled out by Sean Duffin and Lorcan Devlin approaching the closing stages.
Tyrone were three points in arrears when an absolutely brilliant goal brought them level. It came from Sean Og Grogan who fired home, and then Lorcan Devlin and Sean Duffin edged them two ahead with normal time fast running out.
But Derry still represented a serious threat. Points courtesy of John Mullan and Padraig Neilis edged them ahead deep in added time, before Sean Duffin earned Tyrone a fully deserved share of the spoils.
Lorcan Devlin 1-2, Sean Og Grogan 1-2, Dermot Begley 0-7 0-7 (6f), Sean Duffin 0-4 (2f), Aidan Kelly 0-2, Conor Grogan 0-1, Fionn Devlin 0-1, Ruairi Slane 0-1.
John Mullan 1-8, Cormac O’Doherty 1-3 (1-0 pen, 2f(, Darragh McGilligan 0-2, Richie Mullan 0-2, Joe Friel 0-1, Paddy Kelly 0-1, Eamon Conway 0-1, Mark Craig 0-1, Padraig Neilis 0-1.
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