Last year’s All-Ireland finalists Tyrone came through a draining battle when they just couldn’t shake off a game Derry challenge in the Ulster Championship preliminary round in Omagh.
Something that nobody thought was in the script was Derry jumping a point into the lead with a Christopher Bradley point after Shane McGuigan’s thumping shot rattled the net to make life uncomfortable with seven minutes of normal time remaining.
Tyrone made all the early running, aided in part with Derry’s initial decision to play it very cautiously and leaving Shane McGuigan entirely isolated at the edge of the opposition square with late replacement Hugh Pat McGeary for company and Padraig Hampsey sweeping in front.
After the first quarter, they were 0-6 to 0-1 up. Derry passed up a genuine goal chance in the second minute when their late replacement Jason Rocks had clear ground between him and Niall Morgan. The Loup man went with a head-high drive off his less preferred foot that Morgan batted away.
Richard Donnelly, operating in the half-forward line made tremendous contributions in the early stages kicking two points from play and stitching passes to set up Cathal McShane and Frank Burns for points.
His brother Mattie was similarly hard to handle in the opening quarter until Derry switched marker Liam McGoldrick off him and called on Brendan Rogers.
By going more offensive and squeezing up on the Tyrone kick-out when they had frees, Derry mined five of the next score to narrow the gap to one, Shane McGuigan and Ryan Bell on target from frees, while Ciaran McFaul produced a lovely turn and shot for a point.
A hotly disputed point from Cathal McShane went some way to alleviating the pressure on Tyrone and they went in at half time 0-10 to 0-7 up.
However, after Derry’s big push in the third quarter, substitute Darren McCurry took advantage of the huge space he found himself in to squeeze a shot into the corner of Thomas Mallon’s net in the 63rd minute.
From there on, they sailed to victory with five of the last six points.
Scorers for Tyrone: C McShane 0-7, 2f, D McCurry 1-0, P Harte 0-3f, R Donnelly, M Cassidy 0-2 each, P Hampsey, M McKernan, F Burns, HP McGeary, C McAliskey 0-1 each
Scorers for Derry: S McGuigan 1-6, 5f, R Bell 0-3f, C Bradley 0-2, 1f, C McAtamney, C McFaul 0-1 each
Tyrone: N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, M McKernan; M Cassidy, B McDonnell, T McCann; R Donnelly, B Kennedy; M Donnelly, N Sludden, F Burns; C McShane, P Harte, HP McGeary
Subs: C Cavanagh for Kennedy (18m), D McCurry for Sludden (50m), K Coney for Cavanagh (56m), R Brennan for HP McGeary (57m), C McAliskey for R Donnelly (63m), L Rafferty for McKernan (72m)
Derry: T Mallon; S Quinn, B Rogers, K McKaigue; J Rocks, C McKaigue, N Keenan; P Cassidy, C McAtamney; J Rocks, E Lynn, C McFaul; S McGuigan, R Bell, L McGoldrick
Subs: E Bradley for Quinn (H-T), C Bradley for Bell (49m), C Doherty for Rocks (58m), R Mooney for Lynn (64m), P Coney for Keenan (71m), E Concannon for McGoldrick (71m)
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)