The Dr McKenna Cup final was finally decided at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night, having been postponed for a number of reasons over the last three months. The saying “good things come to those who wait” certainly applied here, as Derry and Tyrone served up a cracking contest.
In the end it was the men from the Oak Leaf county who held on for a one point victory but it was a game that could have gone either way. Derry were the better side in the opening half and went in at the interval holding a commanding eight points lead.John Brennan’s men had gone through the competition unbeaten and looked set to win this decider with ease.
Martin Donaghy and Sean Leo McGoldrick kicked Derry into a two points lead after just eight minutes. When Enda Muldoon and Paddy Bradley added further scores, the Oak Leafers led 0-4 to 0-0. Tyrone had to wait almost 15 minutes before Sean Cavanagh got their first score.A second Bradley free increased Derry’s lead to four points once again before Cavanagh hit back for Tyrone.
A goal from Enda Muldoon looked to have finished off this game and enabled Derry to go in at halftime holding a commanding 1-0 to 0-2 lead. However, Tyrone emerged a different side after the break and scored 1-6 without reply as they almost competed a remarkable comeback. Once again, Sean Cavanagh led the way, hitting the goal and also adding points, along with Martin Penrose and Owen Mulligan. Derry eventually got going again and hit a goal from Ciaran Mullan. Eoin and Paddy Bradley scored further points and Derry looked to have done enough when Enda Muldoon completed their tally. However, a late goal from Stephen O’Neill meant that it was an anxious final few minutes before Derry claimed the title.
Tyrone: P McConnell, A McCrory, D McCaul, PJ Quinn, C McCarron, R McMenamin, M Swift, C Gormley, A Cassidy, K Hughes, B McGuigan, S Cavanagh (1-5, 0-4f), O Mulligan (0-2), M Penrose (0-4, 2f), M Donnelly.
Substitutes: D Harte for Quinn (25), Justin McMahon for McCrory (h-t), S O’Neill (1-0) for Donnelly (56), Joe McMahon for McCarron (64)
Derry: D Devlin, C Mullan (1-1), K McCloy, D McBride, B McCallion, A McAlynn, G O’Kane, PJ McCloskey, J Conway, M Donaghy (0-1), SL McGoldrick (0-1), E Bradley (0-1), C McGoldrick, P Bradley (0-6, 5f), E Muldoon (1-2, 0-1f).
Substitutes: B McGuigan for McCallion (4), M Drumm for McGuigan (55), C McGoldrick for Conway (58), B McAlarey for Drumm, D Mullan for C McGoldrick
Referee: J Whyte (Donegal).