Ulster Hurling Shield final – Derry 1-17 Tyrone 1-12
TYRONE were eventually pacified by their comparatively illustrious neighbours Derry in today’s Ulster Shield final, but it was a much closer contest than anticipated and sets the Red Hands in fine stead for the upcoming Nicky Rackard Cup.
While hardly hurling at its platonic ideal, this was reasonably entertaining fare considering the unfavourable weather conditions in Carrickmore.
Nostradamus himself wouldn’t have predicted such a nip and tuck affair after Tyrone’s Division 3A final capitulation to Donegal a fortnight ago, which may yet prove to be something of a watershed moment for Mattie Lennon and co.
While Derry are not the relative force of old, they’re not exactly the hurling version of San Marino either. The Oak Leafers have made steady strides this season under their new manager Collie McGurk and thumped Monaghan in their last-four clash a week ago.
Consequently they were expected to flick aside Tyrone with the minimum of the fuss but for a few reasons that didn’t transpire. Possibly they were caught by surprise by the Red Hands, who were possessed with an incendiary intensity, while they were far too dependent on scoring ace Ruairi Convery up front – Peter Canavan and black taxis come to mind.
That said, Damien Casey bore his usual heavy scoring burden for Tyrone – on this occasion the Dungannon man flashed over nine frees and a point from play.
Deep in the second-half, with the sides level at 0-9 apiece, Tyrone’s Pierse O’Kelly pushed the ball narrowly wide after rising to meet an inch-perfect pass from Tiarnan Morgan.
Perhaps sensing their luck, Derry goaled minutes later when Gerald Bradley lashed an unstoppable shot past Conor McElhatton. That gave Derry a three-point lead with 20 minutes left and they held on to take the title by 1-17 to 1-12.