Dominant Derry still on course for promotion as they defeat Clare by nine points
Paraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park
FOUR ROUNDS IN and Rory Gallagher’s Derry look primed to seal promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League. The unbeaten Ulster men are on course to advance to the top tier having lined out in Division 3 last season.
Benny Heron’s thirty eighth minute goal was the key moment in this contest, the corner forward quelling Clare’s lively start to the second half and firmly putting the visitors in the driving seat. Derry led for the entirety of the contest but the gulf between the sides extended once Heron raised the green flag.
With a spread of eleven scorers in comparison to Clare’s six, Derry were full value for their victory. They found joy finding gaps in the Clare defence and most importantly they were converting scores when doing so.
Paul Cassidy and Oisin McWilliams fired over scores inside the opening three minutes to put Derry ahead, Aaron Griffin opened Clare’s account with their next attack before Padraig McGrogan and Keelan Sexton traded efforts. Sexton’s free arising following a sequence of play lasting close to four minutes when Colm Collins’ men patiently tried to break down the opposing defence.
Derry then kicked three of the next four scores to carve out a 0-06 0-03 advantage but the hosts through Sexton and Eoin Cleary reduced the deficit to a single point at half-time, missed chances from Clare ensured they would not equalise or even stick their noses in front.
Excellent combination play between Aaron Griffin and Darren O’Neill saw the latter kick a score to lift the Clare support among the 1,478 attendance. Crucially Derry nipped this momentum in the bud with Shane McGuigan and Benny Heron kicking 1-01 between them.
By the midway stage of the half, Derry wrapped up proceedings with a tally of 1-03 without reply. Substitute Gareth McKinless finished off a scrappy goal but like their first green flag, it arose from a lost Clare kickout and it was in this sector that the victors really reigned supreme.
For the winners, Emmett Bradley, Brendan Rogers, Paul Cassidy and Niall Loughlin were prominent, their focus now firmly set on securing promotion. Clare may have had promotion in their sights before a ball was kicked in round four but their scoring difference from their first defeat of the League may yet come back to bite them, Aaron Griffin, Cillian Brennan and Manus Doherty stood out for the Banner.
Scorers Derry: Shane McGuigan 0-4 (0-4f), Benny Heron 1-0, Gareth McKinless 1-0, Emmett Bradley 0-2, Paul Cassidy 0-1, Oisin McWilliams 0-1, Padraig McGrogan 0-1, L Morris 0-1, Niall Loughlin 0-1 (0-1f), Ethan Doherty 0-1, Ciaran McFaul 0-1.
Scorers Clare: Keelan Sexton 0-5 (0-3f), Aaron Griffin 0-1, Eoin Cleary 0-1 (0-1f), Darren O’Neill 0-1, Cathal O’Connor 0-1, Emmett McMahon 0-1.
1. Odhran Lynch (Magherafelt)
4. Conor McCluskey (Magherafelt), 2. Christopher McKaigue (Slaughtneil), 3. Brendan Rogers (Slaughtneil)
7. Conor Doherty (Newbridge), 6. Padraig McGrogan (Newbridge), 5. Ethan Doherty (Glen)
8. Conor Glass (Glen), 9. Emmett Bradley (Glen)
10. Paul Cassidy (Bellaghy), 11. Niall Loughlin (Greenlough), 12. Oisin McWilliams (Swatragh)
13. Benny Heron (Ballinascreen), 14. Shane McGuigan (Slaughtneil), 15. Lachlan Murray (Desertmartin)
26. Gareth McKinless (Ballinderry) for Murray (33)
25. Ciaran McFaul (Glen) for McWilliams (45)
24. Niall Toner (Lavey) for Heron (54)
19. Matthew Downey (Lavey) for Loughlin (59)
20. Ben McCarron (Steelstown) for Doherty (67)
1. Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)
4. Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon), 3. Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), 2. Manus Doherty (Éire Óg)
7. Alan Sweeney (St Breckans), 5. Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), 6. Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)
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9. Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg), 8. Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
13. Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey), 11. Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), 12. Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)
10. Jamie Malone (Corofin), 14. Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), 17. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
20. Conor Jordan (Austin Stacks) for E Collins (46)
15. David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for P Collins (48)
24. Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for Malone (55)
19. Ciaran Downes (Kilmihil) for Griffin (64)
21. Dan Keating (Kilmihil) for O’Neill (71)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
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