Derry hold their nerve in penalty drama to land a sixteenth title

Ulster MFC final

Derry 1-15 Monaghan 3-9 AET
(Derry won 4-2 on penalties)

By Michael McMullan

TWO penalty saves from Jack McCloy helped Derry on their way to a championship glory after a penalty shootout at the end of a mammoth final that had a bit of everything.

It was a 16th title for the county and a fourth in nine seasons, with manager Damian McErlain also leading the county to 2015 and 2017 glory.

Conall Higgins stepped up to hit the winning penalty after his pressure free at the end of extra-time gave the Oakleafers another bite of the cherry.

It was redemption for McCloy who saw his shanked kick-out cost Derry in the final play of normal time, leading to Matthew Finn’s equaliser.

The action began as early as the second minute of the game when Tommy Mallen slotted home Monaghan’s first goal after a mere 90 seconds.

The Oaks were level before Johnny McGuckian hit Derry’s goal on the way to a 1-7 to 1-4 interval lead.

The second half was nothing short of frantic, with the breathless opening 10 minutes a game almost on its own.

First, Monaghan had Finn’s 35th minute goal ruled out. The Farney inside man intercepted McCloy’s kick-out before slotting to an empty net only for referee Loughran to rule it out.

It was a tough call on Monaghan with Finn – an attacker – not breaking any rule by entering the ‘D’ to attack McCloy’s kick-out.

Goalkeepers McCloy and Mooney made excellent saves at either end with the crowd enthralled in a game of pinball.

Monaghan did hit goals from Sean Óg McElwain and Conor Jones to make the score 1-12 to 3-5 with 11 minutes to play.

With substitute Cahal McKaigue fetching three massive kick-outs in the injured Tommy Rogers; absence. Derry looked to have done enough.

James Sargent fielded another. Fionn McEldowney made a telling interception and McCloy was assured in his handling.

Monaghan – with Conor Jones to the fore – found a way of forcing extra time with Damian McErlain’s side down to 14 men after Johnny McGuckian’s black card.

Higgins nosed Derry ahead but the opening spell of the first half was dominated by Monaghan who had three sides before goalkeeper Mooney kicked an equaliser.

Monaghan edged ahead in the final period of the game with a Mallen free before Higgins nailed his  pressure kick to force penalties.

McCloy made two saves with Sargent, McNamee, McGuckian and Higgins kicking Derry to a fourth Ulster minor title in nine seasons.

Derry: J McCloy; R Small, F McEldowney, L Grant; C Spiers (0-1), F Murray, O Campbell; T Rogers (0-1), J Sargent (0-2, 1 45); E Young, G Dillon (0-4, 3f), J McGuckian (1-1); J Boyle, C Higgins (0-4, 2f), O Doherty (0-1)

Subs: C McKaigue for T Rogers (INJ 40), L O’Neill for O Doherty (46), D McGonigle for J Boyle (55), D McGuckin for O Campbell (65),D McNamee for E Young (72)

Black card: J McGuckian (63)

Monaghan: J Mooney (0-1); E McCaffrey (0-1), J Lynch, C Greenan; A Stuart, T Quinn, C Murphy; M Carolan, D Connolly; C Jones (1-1), M McGinnity (0-2f), C Meehan; T Mallen (1-1, 1f); M Finn (0-1), L McKenna (0-1)
Subs: S McElwain for M Finn (Blood sub-19, reversed 24), S McElwain (1-0) for T Quinn (34), M Maguire (0-1) for E McCaffrey (47), C Clerkin for C Meehan (49), J McCrystal for M McGinnity (52), J McCaughey for C Murphy (61), O Maher for A Stuart (ET), J Wright for D Connolly (70+1), M McGinnity for J McCrystal (73), T Doherty for S McElwain (79)

Yellow cards: C Murphy (3), M Maguire (59), S McElwain (73), L McKenna (76)

Referee: M Loughran (Tyrone)

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