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McGoldrick and Bradley on target to earn Derry spot in final

Derry will approach next Sunday's National League opener against Tyrone in confident mood after two goals in the space of three first-half minutes from Sean Leo McGoldrick and Paddy Bradley saw them make it four wins on the spin and claim a berth in the McKenna Cup final.

Antrim played some fluent football in the opening 20 minutes and, with Paddy Cunningham looking particularly sharp, four scores on the trot saw them lead 0-6 to 0-3 after 15 minutes. However the Saffrons then went 17 minutes without a score, during which time the home team scored 2-3 to build what would prove to be an unassailable six-point lead.

On 24 minutes McGoldrick skipped past two challenges to blast home and then, with Antrim still reeling, Bradley finished soccer style after a super ball from Brian McCallion.

With Mark Lynch kicking two superb points from play to take his first-half tally to three and Conleith Gilligan adding a free, the Oak Leafers lead by 2-6 to 0-6 by the 28-minute mark. Though Antrim continued to look sharp up front with scores from Cunningham and Conor McGourty, Derry still led by five at the interval 2-7 to 0-8.

The second half was another free-scoring affair with Mark Dougan bagging three great points for Antrim. But with Lynch, Bradley and Gilligan keeping the score board ticking over at the other end, the Saffrons needed a goal but never really threatened to breach Michael Conlan's net and could never get any closer than three points as the home side held on comfortably for a six-point win.

With four wins under his belt and his side playing some fine football, new manager John Brennan has some tough decisions to make with nine players such as the Kielt brothers, Joe Diver and Caolan O'Boyle to come back from the university squads.

Scorers -- Derry: P Bradley1-4 (0-1f), M Lynch 0-4, SL McGoldrick 1-1, C Gilligan 0-3 (2f), M Drumm, J Conway 0-1 each. Antrim: P Cunningham 0-7 (5f), M Dougan 0-4, T Scullion, C McGourty, B Herron 0-1 each.

Derry -- M Conlan; B McCallion, G O'Kane, D McBride; M Drumm, B McGoldrick, A McAlynn; PJ McCloskey, J Conway; D Mullan, S L McGoldrick, M Lynch; C McGoldrick, P Bradley C Gilligan. Subs: Niall Holly for McAlynn (48).

Antrim -- C Kerr; C Brady, D McCann, K O'Boyle; T Scullion, A Healy, D O'Neill; B Herron. J Crozier; T O'Neill, K Niblock, M Sweeney; P Cunningham, M Dougan, C McGourty. Subs: K Bradey for McCann (53), J Laverty for Scullion (62), E McNeill for McGourty (64), M McAleese for D O'Neill (64).

Ref -- G Corrigan (Down).

Irish Independent