Derry manager John Brennan took his win-loss record to 5-0 as his Oak Leaf side held off a spirited Tyrone at Celtic Park yesterday.
Having led by four points with less than five minutes to play, the Oak Leafers were relieved to hear the final whistle as Sean Cavanagh and Martin Penrose whittled their advantage to the minimum. Tyrone will rue some missed first-half chances when they kicked some poor wides from good positions, but Derry probably deserved to edge the verdict.
Derry look sharp for this stage of the season with Sean Leo McGoldrick enjoying his new play-making role at centre half-forward, Paddy Bradley looking hungry and young players like Emmet McGuckian and Caileann O'Boyle coming off the bench to kick important scores.
The crucial score was probably the first of the game as Declan Mullan and Conleth Gilligan set up the excellent McGoldrick to hammer home a second-minute goal for Derry.
Though the Oak Leaf men led from that point on, the game was always in the balance. Midway through the half there was only a point in it as Cavanagh (two) and Ryan McMenamin pointed for Tyrone in response to McGoldrick's second score. Derry were also thankful for the vigilance of goalkeeper Danny Devlin, who twice came out on top in one-on-ones.
As the half entered its final minute the gap was down to two points, PJ McCloskey, Conleith Gilligan and Ciaran McGoldrick pointing for Derry, Damian McCaul and Cavanagh from a free raising the flag for Tyrone.
But with McGoldrick taking his tally to 1-2 and Paddy Bradley twice turning from supplier to finisher, Derry rattled over three late scores to lead 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.
The restart saw Tyrone reinvigorated -- Brian McGuigan pointed and Penrose converted a free. Bradley interrupted the flow with a point but Aidan Cassidy, Penrose and McGinley scored to close the gap to 1-8 to 0-10.
Derry's challenge was boosted by the impact of their bench as McGuckian thumped over two scores and O'Boyle scored from a narrow angle to put Derry 1-11 to 0-10 ahead with eight minutes to go.
But with Niall McKenna impressing at midfield, Tyrone dominated the closing stages as frees from Cavanagh and Penrose (two) left only a score between the sides with one minute of injury time to play.
With Derry now down to 14 men following Niall Holly's second yellow card, Tyrone got one last chance, but Stephen O'Neill's long-range effort flew wide as Derry claimed two precious points.
Scorers -- Derry: SL McGoldrick 1-2, P Bradley 0-3, E McGuckian 0-2, C Gilligan (0-1f), PJ McCloskey, C O'Boyle, C McGoldrick 0-1 each. Tyrone: M Penrose (0-3f), S Cavanagh (0-2f), 0-4 each, D McCaul, R McMenamin, B McGuigan, A Cassidy, E McGinley 0-1 each.
Derry -- D Devlin; B McCallion, K McCloy, D McBride; C Kielt, B McGoldrick, G O'Kane; P J McCloskey, J Conway; D Mullan, S L McGoldrick, M Lynch; C McGoldrick, P Bradley, C Gilligan. Subs: C O Boyle for Gilligan, N Holly for Mullan (50), E McGuckian for Lynch (53), M Donaghy for Conway (63), B Doyle for C McGoldrick (70). Blood sub: J Conway for Holly (65) reversed (67).
Tyrone -- J Curran; D Carlin, C McCarron, D McCaul; PJ Quinn, C Gormley, R McMenamin; K Hughes, A Cassidy; P Harte, B McGuigan, S Cavanagh; M Penrose, S O'Neill, E McGinley. Subs: S O'Neill for Gormley (26), N McKenna for Quinn (h-t), M Swift for Cassidy (58).
Ref -- M Duffy (Sligo).