Ryan McNicholl celebrates a score for Derry. (Pic: Mary K Burke)
Derry's reign as Ulster and All-Ireland minor champions came to an end at the hands of a powerful Armagh comeback on Wednesday night in Owenbeg.
ELECTRIC IRELAND ULSTER MFC
The Oakleafers were five-points ahead, 0-10 to 0-5, after 38 minutes before going scoreless for 22 minutes against an Armagh team who took a hold of the game in the final quarter.
The visitors kicked six unanswered points before Derry substitute Cormac Bateson levelled the game (0-11 all) in stoppage time.
Armagh wing back Callum O'Neill was off target with a series of efforts over the hour, but he popped up with the winner.
There was still time for Derry to save the game, but Cormac Bateson's pressure kick, into the wind, tailed to the right of the posts and referee Moore blew for full-time on the kick-out.
After falling to Derry at the same stage over the last two seasons, Armagh got over the line but the Oakleafers will look back with regret with eight shots dropping short into goalkeeper McMullan over the game including Jack McGroarty's close-range free.
It was Derry who settled better early on with Ryan McNicholl in for the first score of the game.
Cianan Campbell levelled matters and from Regan's kick-out Niall O'Donnell took a spectacular mark before taking a pass later in the move and slotting Derry ahead.
It was an even opening quarter, with McGurk, McNicholl and McGroarty controlling much of Derry's counter-attacking play, with the latter kicking Derry into a 0-4 to 0-3 lead at the water break.
Derry enjoyed their best spell of the game, with McGroarty, Walls, O'Donnell and Ryan McGill adding points to give them a deserved four-point lead, 0-8 to 0-4. With Armagh on the ropes, O'Donnell had a chance for goal but his low shot was clawed away by goalkeeper McMullan.
Ronan Walls and a McNicholl kicked Derry into a five-point lead early in the second-half, but they were unable to push on against a resurgent Armagh team who used their bench to great effect.
The visitors began to control the midfield and an exhibition of kicking pulled them back into the game. Cianan Campbell floated over a beauty with substitute Bernard Cassidy cutting the deficit to three points at the second water break.
A wonder left-footed Luke McKeever score from the wing had the game back to a point and Armagh had Derry on the back foot. Tadhg Grimley levelled the game.
With the game in the mixer, Armagh punched a Regan kick-out back into their attack where Ethan McKenna put the visitors into the lead for the first time in the game.
A pressure free from substitute Cormac Bateson tied the game and extra-time was on the cards, but Armagh weren't finished yet. They built yet another attack and after kicking a series of wides over the hour, Callum O'Neill curled over the winner to book a semi-final spot with Donegal.
ARMAGH: Stephen McMullan; Matthew McCaughley, Gareth Murphy, Emmet Magee; Callum O'Neill (0-1), Fergal O'Brien, Aidan Cassidy; Tadgh Grimley (0-2), Michael Burnett; Rogan McVeigh (0-1), Aaron O'Neill (0-1f), Brendan O'Hagan; Rhys Stevens, Luke McKeever (0-2, 1f), Cianan Campbell (0-2)
SUBS: Bernard Cassidy (0-1) for A O'Neill (39), Ethan McKenna (0-2, 1f) for R McVeigh (43), Ruairi O'Brien for B O'Hagan (51), Joe McClelland for A Cassidy (51), James Conlon for C Campbell (61)
YELLOW CARDS: M Burnett (31), E Magee (45), J McClelland (58), G Murphy (62)
DERRY: Louis Regan; Simon Matterson, Adam McLaughlin, Danny McDermott; Ronan Walls (0-1), Patrick McGurk, Jack McGroarty (0-2); Patrick Walls (0-1), Felix Kilmartin; Ruairi Forbes, Ryan McNicholl (0-2, 1f), Rory McGill (0-1); Eoin Higgins (0-1f), Ciaran Chambers, Niall O’Donnell (0-2)
SUBS: Tiernan O'Connor for E Higgins (35), Luke Diamond for C Chambers (39), Cormac Bateson (0-1f) for F Kilmartin (44), John Lavery for R McNicholl (55), James Friel for R Forbes (55)
YELLOW CARD: N O'Donnell (50)
REF: Michael Moore (Down)
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