Derry fightback ensures share of spoils

Close-fought encounter leaves home side rueing missed opportunities

Derry reduced a seven-point deficit to claim a draw at home to Tyrone at Celtic Park on Saturday evening but Oak Leaf captain Mark Lynch was in no mood to celebrate the recovery.

Early goals in both halves from Conor Grugan and Darren McCurry seemed destined to ensure Tyrone left with both points. But with Lynch playing an influential role and Cailean O'Boyle coming off the bench to find the net, the home team recovered and could have won had they been less profligate.

“You have to take your chances here in Division One and . . . we made mistakes and were punished,” said Lynch.

Derry notched the opening score when James Kielt converted from a free. From the kickout Tyrone cut Derry wide open and Conan Grugan found the net from 20m.


The next 10 minutes were dominated by the home team as Mark Lynch (two), Enda Lynn (two), McFaul kicked them into a 0-6 to 1-0 lead.

But Tyrone took control of centrefield and Darren McCurry kicked a free and a point from play and Niall Morgan converted two 45s. Ciarán McFaul's point levelled matters for Derry at 0-7 to 1-4 on 21 minutes but a Morgan free and a point from play by McCurry meant the Red Hand men led by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break.

Tyrone again looked sharper at the start of the second half and a McCurry free and point from Shea McGuigan extended their lead. Enda Lynn pulled a point back for Derry but Mattie Donnelly responded from a free and Tyrone pulled clear when Darren McCurry fired the ball to the empty net for a 2-9 to 0-8 lead on 41 minutes.

Derry, however, fought back and Emmet McGuckin and Aidan McAlynn pointed to narrow the margin.

Ronan O’Neill converted a free for Tyrone but a super score from Derry’s Kielt and a goal from O’Boyle made it 1-12 to 2-10 on 52 minutes.

A free from O’Neill and a point from Grugan put Tyrone three ahead but again Derry responded with three points to level the game at at 1-15 to 2-12 with seven minutes to play.

The closing exchanges became extremely tense but neither side could fashion a clear cut chance to break the deadlock and emerge victorious.