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Heron double drives Derry to first Ulster final since 2011

Derry struck three goals in the Athletic Grounds to secure a convincing victory.

Image: John McVitty/INPHO

DERRY: 3-12

MONAGHAN: 0-17

Declan Bogue reporting from the Athletic Grounds 

AFTER GOING A decade in which they won just one Ulster Championship game, Derry have now gone back to back to reach their first provincial final since 2011.

And as in that game, Donegal will be the opposition again.

One play towards the end of the first half showed the quality of the coaching in Derry. Kieran Hughes made a dummy run for a Rory Beggan kickout to shake off Conor McCluskey. At the second attempt, Beggan put the ball in an area for Hughes to run onto.

But out of nowhere, Conor Doherty materialised in the space. The possession ended when Niall Loughlin kicked wide, but in terms of showing how Derry had Monaghan figures out, it was everything.

By the break, Derry were 2-7 to 0-6 in front. Monaghan had been restricted to three points from play.

tempers-flare-between-gareth-mckinless-and-dessie-ward Source: John McVitty/INPHO

Derry’s use of Gareth McKinless was really clever. They were already 0-2 to no score up when Odhran Lynch got a quick kickout away from a Conor McManus wide. McKinless came as a second wave of attack to take a Niall Loughlin pass, crashing through the challenge of Darren Hughes before planting the ball hard into the net.

At the back, the Derry defence was sharp too. Monaghan were struggling to get into scoring positions but after Ryan McAnespie forced a turnover on Conor Doherty, the ball was flung around until Micheál Bannigan was bearing down on goal. Ethan Doherty executed the perfect tackle to strip him of the ball.

The second goal came out of an unlikely source. Monaghan had been allowing Derry goalkeeper Lynch uncontested possession. This came at a cost as he ambled into an advanced position and arrowed a pass to Niall Toner with Conor Boyle caught under the ball.

Toner delayed his pass perfectly to Benny Heron running a direct line, and Heron’s shot flew past Beggan to leave Derry 2-3 to 0-2 up after 25 minutes.

The goal in the second half came from a long period of possession when a Conor Glass footpass opened up the Monaghan defence. Benny Heron and the excellent Ethan Doherty left Heron skating across the face of the goal. He put on the brakes, turned and slotted it to the very top corner for his second goal.

Game over, but Derry are only getting going.

Scorers for Derry: S McGuigan (0-7, 4f, 1 mark), B Heron (2-0), G McKinless (1-0), P Cassidy (0-2), N Toner, E Bradley, N Loughlin (0-1 each)

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Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus (0-7, 5f), J McCarron (0-4, 3f, 1 mark), R McAnespie, D Ward, C McCarthy, D Hughes, N Kearns, A Woods (0-1 each)

DERRY: O Lynch; C McKaigue, B Rogers, C McCluskey; C Doherty, E Doherty, P McGrogan; C Glass, G McKinless; P Cassidy, S Downey, N Toner; B Heron, S McGuigan, N Loughlin

Subs: E Bradley for Loughlin (42 mins), P Cassidy for Doherty (62 mins), B McCarron for Toner (67 mins) P McNeill for Downey (72 mins), L Murray for Paul Cassidy (75 mins)

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; R McAnespie, D Ward, C McCarthy; D Hughes, N Kearns; S Carey, K Hughes, M Bannigan; J McCarron, G Mohan, C McManus

Subs: K O’Connell for Bannigan (33 mins), A Woods for Carey (33 mins), D Garland for K Hughes (55 mins), S Jones for Mohan (62 mins), C Leonard for Boyle (72 mins)

Referee: David Gough (Meath) 

About the author:

Declan Bogue

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