Derry hold off Monaghan to get back to winning ways

Ulster U-20 FC

Derry 1-11 Monaghan 2-6

By Michael McMullan

DERRY were made to hang tough against Monaghan on Wednesday night in Castleblayney to get back to winning ways.

After being hit by Gavin Potter’s winner in defeat to Tyrone last week, it was a late Oisin Doherty insurance point that saw Hugh McGrath’s side to victory and into second spot in the table.

The home side were without star man Stephen Mooney due to his involvement with the seniors this weekend against Cavan in Clones.

Monaghan’s defensive shield kept Derry playing around the edges while having Bobby McCaul as an excellent outlet at the other end.

There was a first outing of the season for Derry skipper Patrick McGurk after injury but they were without Ryan McNicholl.

A 57th minute run and goal from Aaron Carey pulled the home side back into the game and it took a vital tackle from James Murray to close the door on a Monaghan attack with Derry under the cosh.

VITAL…James Murray made an important interception when Derry were under the cosh

After a cagey opening Kian Duffy and Oisin Doherty exchanged frees before the game’s first goal, a rocket to the net from Johnny McGuckian after Fionn McEldowney cut through the Monaghan defence.

It wasn’t long before the Derry net was bulging. A Monaghan turnover led to danger man Bobby McCaul being fed possession and he rounded Conall Heron before beating ‘keeper Armstrong at his near post to level matters at 1-1 each.

It was two frees from Oisin Doherty that edged Derry into a 1-4 to 1-4 lead before Eoin Higgins nailed a tough kick on the wing for a three-point Oakleafers’ interval lead.

Sandwiched between two Conlon frees, Conleth McGrogan fired over a fine score with Ruairi Forbes later doing likewise as Derry began to stretch away.

Substitute Sean Young made to 1-8 to 1-4 before the first turning point, Bobby McCaul seeing his goal jacked off the line by Rory Small with another Doherty free looking like ending the game as a contest.

Aaron Carey had other ideas and sped through to bag Monaghan’s second goal with three minutes to play. It was a nervous closing period before Doherty eased the pressure with his insurance point.

Elsewhere, Down game from four points in arrears against Antrim with five second-half goals in a 5-8 to 1-6 win.

In a new-look group format this years, the group winners advance to the semi-finals. Tyrone and Donegal (via head to head) are currently in top spot.

The teams finishing in second and third spots then face off in two quarter finals.

Fermanagh’s visit of Cavan next week will decide who makes it through from Section B.

In Section A, Down and Antrim can’t make the quarter-finals with Tyrone, Derry and Monaghan all qualified with the chance of topping the group.

Remaining games – Wednesday, April 10 (7.30pm)

Derry v Antrim (Owenbeg), Tyrone v Monaghan (Coalisland), Donegal v Armagh (Ballybofey), Fermanagh v Cavan (Brewster Park).

Derry: C Armstrong; F McEldowney, C Heron, R Small; C McGrogan (0-1), J Murray, P McGurk; D McDermott, T Rogers; C Spiers, R Forbes (0-1), J McGuckian (1-0); E Higgins (0-1f), N O’Donnell (0-1), O Doherty (0-5, 3f)

Subs: S Young (0-1) for C Spiers (37), R Walls (0-1) for E Higgins (44), D McPeake for T Rogers (50), S McCann for N O’Donnell (58)

Monaghan: J Mooney; G Devlin, J McConnon, F Carolan; P Doogan Burke, C McQuillan, S Callan; J McMahon, T Hughes; D Mee, A Carey (1-0), O McGorman; N Rice, B McCaul (1-1), K Duffy (0-3f)

Subs: C Foy for D Mee (22), C Conlon (0-2f) for C McQuillan (26), N Sherlock for J McMahon (HT), L McManus for C Conlon (51), D McKenna for N Rice (51)

Referee: M Moore (Down)

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