Tyrone stretch Derry beyond their limit
Tyrone 2-15 Derry 0-12
Tyrone made it four wins from four to tighten their grip on the NFL Division 2, easing past Derry. A second defeat on the trot has punched a serious hole in the Oak Leaf promotion push, and perhaps more significantly, dealt a psychological blow ahead of the big Ulster Championship clash between the sides. Derry have lost all four of their competitive meetings with Tyrone this season.
A touch of Sean Cavanagh magic made a telling contribution, his brilliantly executed 50th-minute goal plunging a knife into Derry hearts in front of a crowd of 5,665. Derry were unable to live with the energy of Tyrone's running game, which stretched their defence beyond the limit.
Kieran McGeary marked his debut with an early point, but Derry, with Emmet Bradley imposing himself on the midfield battle, were soon moving with purpose, Sean Leo McGoldrick and Daniel Heavron working hard to link defence to attack.
Full-back Chrissy McKaigue charged forward to land a point, and when Ciaran McFaul was sent through by Gareth McKinless, a goal looked likely, but he opted for less. The Oak Leafers were moving sweetly, and went 0-4 to 0-2 ahead with a James Kielt score.
But Tyrone had McGeary, Peter Harte and Richie Donnelly among a legion of players committed to run themselves into the ground for the cause, and the assurance and experience of Colm Cavanagh was the platform. They reeled off five points on the spin, including a delightful Sean Cavanagh effort.
Derry were punished for the difficulties goalkeeper Eoin McNicholl had in nailing his kick-outs, and O'Neill drilled four frees between the posts as they gradually took a grip on the game.
The Oak Leafers went 15 minutes without a score, before Ryan Bell converted a free, but they almost conceded a goal when Colm Cavanagh sent Barry Tierney clear, but McNicholl dashed off his line to save superbly.
What could have been a five-point lead was soon cut to one as Derry countered instantly to score through James Kielt. But the home side finished with three more points before the break, Richie Donnelly and McGeary both on the mark to give their side a 0-10 to 0-6 interval lead.
Donnelly was in the mood, and two more brilliant scores from All-Star Mattie's younger brother made Tyrone's night look even more promising.
But the talented Chrissy Bradley came off the bench to land a spectacular Derry score, and they were still very much in contention.
At the other end, O'Neill's fifth, and first from play, restored the four-point cushion, and in the 50th minute, Mickey Harte's men struck a decisive blow when Tiernan McCann slipped a pass to Sean Cavanagh, who rifled his shot to the top corner of the net.
Tyrone's running game, epitomised by the flying McCann, was now putting the Oak Leafers under severe pressure, and Conor Meyler's score put eight between the sides.
Sean Cavanagh had an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt when he opened up the Derry defence, but blasted his shot wide.
Derry ended with 14 men after full-back McKaigue picked up a second booking, and Tyrone corner-back Aidan McCrory finished them off with a second goal.
Scorers - Tyrone: S Cavanagh 1-1, A McCrory 1-0, R O'Neill 0-6 (5f), R Donnelly 0-4, K McGeary 0-2, P Harte, C Meyler 0-1 each; Derry: J Kielt 0-3 (2f), C Bradley (1f), R Bell (2f) 0-2 each, D Heavron, C McKaigue, C McFaul, E McGuckin, E Bradley 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron, B Tierney, R Brennan, T McCann, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly, K McGeary, P Harte, R Donnelly, C McAliskey, S Cavanagh, R O'Neill. Subs: C Meyler for Brennan (h-t), J Munroe for Tierney (48), M Bradley for McGeary (48), D McCurry for McAliskey (62), J McMahon for McNamee (65), C McCann for Harte (69).
Derry: E McNicholl, O Duffy, C McKaigue, K McKaigue, G McKinless, B Rogers, M Craig, N Holly, E Bradley, D Heavron, C McFaul, SL McGoldrick, R Bell, E McGuckin, J Kielt. Subs: R Ferris for Craig (30), C Bradley for Bell (44), C McAtamney for E Bradley (52), C O'Boyle for Kielt (55), S Heavron for K McKaigue (59, BC), B Heron for McGuckin (65)
Referee: D Codrick (Meath).
Sunday Indo Sport