Tipperary 1-21 Derry 2-17
Kevin O’Halloran will probably find himself as the answer to a pub quiz question in years to come, the Tipperary star who has never played adult football for a club.
A son of north Tipperary, hurling heartland, the Portroe man’s 1-4 haul was decisive in securing a first ever All-Ireland quarter-final place for the county.
Mind you, when Tipp supporters who attended Kingspan Breffni Park think back on this game the name of Conor Sweeney will be etched in their memories.
Two points down in injury-time, Tipp conjured three late points in a row and the last two came from corner-forward Sweeney who held his nerve in the most testing of circumstances.
His first point in the 73rd minute levelled the game and his second, the winner, was a stunning left footed strike from the left wing that split the posts in the 75th minute.
Brendan Rogers had a late opportunity to level it for Derry but pushed his kick just wide and full-time sounded on an absorbing battle shortly after.
Remarkably, neighbouring Munster counties Tipp and Clare have now qualified on the same day for their first ever quarter-finals.
But it was tough for Derry to take having come good late on for the third weekend running following brave wins over Cavan and Meath to move within touching distance of their own breakthrough with that two-point injury-time lead.
A day of drama began before throw-in as Derry defender Gareth McKinless sustained an injury in the warm up and had to be helped off the field.
The Ballinderry man was replaced by Oisin Duffy who found himself immediately in the thick of it as Tipp attacked with pace and purpose.
They led 0-5 to 0-1 after 11 minutes with Michael Quinlivan, Sweeney, Philip Austin and Peter Acheson all on the mark.
Quinlivan started at midfield but moved in to his usual full-forward slot early on and troubled Derry with his high fielding and accurate kicking.
He rose up above two Derry defenders in the 15th minute to fist a ball goalwards and ‘keeper Thomas Mallon did well to parry it beyond the post.
O’Halloran converted the subsequent 45 and Tipp were sitting pretty on a double scores lead, 0-6 to 0-3.
O’Halloran nailed another free shortly after to put four between the sides but just as Tipp threatened to put serious daylight between the teams they lost their way,.
Derry outscored the Munster men by 1-5 to 0-1 between the 19th and 38th minutes to take control of the game.
Danny Heavron was Derry's inspiration, lining out as their sweeper but bombing continuously upfield.
He had a key role in 1-3 of Tipp’s 1-8 first-half tally, chipping in a point himself and making the surging run that led to Mark Lynch’s 32nd minute goal.
Tipp had men back but just couldn’t stop Heavron’s jinking, bobbing run down the left and Lynch came bursting through off his shoulder to take Heavron’s pop pass and strike it first time to the net.
Tipp finished the half with O’Halloran and Quinlivan points to trail 1-8 to 0-10 at half-time and bossed the third quarter to take a 1-18 to 1-13 lead. Apparently the game was up but Derry had other ideas, picking off 1-4 without reply including an Eoghan Brown goal to lead 2-17 to 1-18 entering injury-time.
They will kick themselves for not holding on but this is a Tipp team full of steel and they summoned up all their character in those closing minutes to steal a famous win.
Tipperary: E Comerford; C McDonald, A Campbell, J Feehan; B Maher (0-1), R Kiely, C O'Shaughnessy; M Quinlivan (0-7, 0-5f), G Hannigan; P Austin (0-1), P Acheson (0-1), B Fox; K O'Halloran (1-4, 0-3f, 0-1 45), J Keane (0-2), C Sweeney (0-5).
Subs: A Moloney for Hannigan (h/t), S Leahy for Kiely (67), M Hanley for O’Shaughnessy (75).
Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, C McKaigue, C Mullan; K McKaigue, C McFaul, B Rogers; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron (0-4), N Loughlin (0-3), E Lynn (0-1); J Kielt (0-2, 0-1f), E McGuckin, M Lynch (1-4, 0-3f).
Subs: N Toner for Lynn (43), C Bradley (0-1) for Kielt (50), E Bradley (0-1) for Holly (52), L McGoldrick (0-1) for Duffy (56), E Brown (1-0) for McGuckin (62), N Forrester for Heavron (73).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).