THE presence of Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson at his first GAA match created a stir at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh on Saturday night but it was Tyrone who stole the show as they outclassed Derry.
Yet rather than bask in the euphoria of this early-season success, Red Hands boss Mickey Harte was much more concerned with "the many mistakes" his side made.
"Surely it was good to win but that should not camouflage the many mistakes that we made. We have to learn from this game as we now approach the league," declared Harte.
Derry's whirlwind start to a match spliced with yellow cards had propelled them to a 1-3 to 0-1 lead by the 16th minute but the dismissal of James Conway two minutes later served to change the course of the game. "We were in a poor position early on trailing 1-4 to a point and Derry were unfortunate to get Conway sent off, which upset their game," said Harte.
If Paddy Bradley's early goal and brace of points had fired up Derry, then Owen Mulligan's goal -- which was complemented by points from Peter Harte, Cathal McCarron and Stephen O'Neill -- helped to cement Tyrone's recovery and left the sides deadlocked at 1-5 each at half-time.
Derry scored just two further points from play as Tyrone, despite having lost midfielder Colm Cavanagh, stretchered off in the 19th minute, wielded their authority in the second half. Michael Murphy's contribution from midfield and the pace and marksmanship of the Donnellys, Matthew and Mark, highlighted Tyrone's overall dominance.
A beleaguered Derry defence was pierced almost at will, with McCarron and substitute Ronan O'Neill adding insult to injury with further scores. Derry manager John Brennan was left fuming by the decision of referee Martin Higgins to red-card Conway, who was making his first start after a year out with injury.
"A man from a hundred metres away can see better than another linesman from possibly three metres away? If that's going to happen, then we're going to have to ask questions," rapped Brennan.
scorers -- Tyrone: O Mulligan 1-1, Matthew Donnelly 0-3, Stephen O'Neill (1f), C McCarron, M Murphy 0-2 each, Mark Donnelly, P Harte, D Carlin, R O'Neill 0-1 each. Derry: P Bradley 1-2 (2f), C O'Boyle 1-0 pen, C Gilligan 0-3 (2f), M Lynch 0-2, SL McGoldrick 0-1.
TYRONE -- J Devine; A McCrory, Justin McMahon, PJ Quinn; C McCarron, P Harte, D Carlin; M Murphy, C Cavanagh: Matthew Donnelly, P Hughes, M Penrose; O Mulligan, Mark Donnelly, Stephen O'Neill. Subs: Joe McMahon for Cavanagh (19), J Lafferty for Penrose (40), Sean O'Neill for Justin McMahon (46), S McNulty for Murphy (68), R O'Neill for Stephen O'Neill (68).
DERRY -- D Devlin; D McCabe, L Morrow, R Dillon; G O'Kane, B McCallion, B McGoldrick; J Conway, J Diver; C McKaigue, M Lynch, SL McGoldrick; C O'Boyle, P Bradley, C Gilligan. Subs: N Forrester for O'Kane (8), K O'Neill for Forrester (40), PJ McCloskey for Diver (45), M Craig for Dillon (53), E Lynn for Gilligan (59).
REF -- M Higgins (Fermanagh)