PREVIEW: Ulster rivals set for u-20 final rematch

Ulster U-20 FC final
Derry v Tyrone
Wednesday, Armagh, 7.30pm
Referee: Diarmuid Boylan (Monaghan)
Live on TG4 YouTube

By Michael McMullan

A FIRST title for Derry since 2018 or Tyrone’s fourth in six seasons?

All will be revealed on Wednesday night as another chapter in an Ulster rivalry is written.

The sides met in the group stages at Celtic Park with Tyrone nicking victory in the final seconds.

While they did nick it, that’s only half the story. The Red Hands were the dominant team in the final quarter before Johnny McGuckian looked to have salvage a draw only for a swift Tyrone attack from the kick-out yielding a Gavin Potter winning point.

It was a night when Derry skipper Patrick McGurk was missing with a shoulder injury with Danny McDermott making a return after a solar done injury.

Tyrone have had a settled look about their team with their main selection debate surrounding the Ruairi McCullagh. After making an impact coming off the bench, he was in from the start in Tyrone’s semi-final win over Monaghan.

It was a narrow victory and Derry had a similar experience in the semi-final when Ryan McNicholl – used as an impact sub – kicked the winner with the last kick against Donegal in Ballybofey.

Tyrone boss Paul Devlin’s addition of Diarmaid McNulty to his management team has been a masterstroke. Aside from being a respected coach, he teaches in Omagh CBS and will know how those players tick.

Playing with a man less in attack – due to Callum Daly dropping deep – leaves space for the rest to operate in. Derry have the players to match up to a degree but a lot will depend on how James Murray handles Eoin McElholm.

The Rossa defender has been Derry’s form player of the campaign and kept a handle on McElholm in the group game.

It’s at the other end where Derry haven’t the same consistent pattern. Oisin Doherty is their main scorer but many are from placed ball.

Eoin Higgins and Ciaran Chambers will be vying for a spot up front. So too will Ryan McNicholl if the management decide against keeping him as the impact man.

Tyrone will be watching on with defenders Joey Clarke and Ben Hughes – two the sizeable Donaghmore contingent – as their key markers.

When Derry are motoring, it’s about hard running. Give and go to keep the ball out of contact.

If it’s Fionn McEldowney who makes the burst, Conall Heron or Tommy Rogers will need to tuck in as they’ve done all through the campaign.

It’s not as defined as Callum Daly for Tyrone but Derry always have a dropping midfielder.

Tyrone’s workrate in the middle third is considerable. They suffocated Monaghan there in the first-half of the semi-final.

The first half against Donegal flagged up the danger of Derry having isolated runners. Derry’s avenue is give and go.

Tyrone will arrive in Armagh as favourites with a well-balanced side.

On their side of the coin, if Derry can more than break even with Tyrone’s attack, getting their hands on the Danny Murphy Cup will come down to how much they learned from Ballybofey. Extra time? Maybe.


Oisin Doherty 3-21 (14f)
Ruairi Forbes 1-6
Johnny McGuckian 3-0
Eoin Higgins 0-8 (4f)
Niall O’Donnell 1-5

Eoin McElholm 4-7
Conor Owens 2-12 (1-0 pen, 3f, 1m)
Cormac Devlin 3-4
Gavin Potter 1-9
Ruairi McCullagh 1-6 (2m)


Down 1-9 Derry 2-14
Derry 1-9 Tyrone 0-13
Monaghan 2-6 Derry 2-6
Derry 5-16 Antrim 0-3
Derry 1-11 Cavan 0-7
Donegal 0-14 Derry 1-12

Antrim 0-7 Tyrone 8-16
Tyrone 0-11 Down 1-8
Derry 1-9 Tyrone 0-13
Tyrone 5-20 Monaghan 0-8
Tyrone 2-9 Monaghan 0-14

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