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06 Jul 2022

County Derry Post Sporting Review: July

All-Ireland ecstasy for minor footballers as seniors bow out.

County Derry Post Sporting Review: July

Derry minors celebrate their All-Ireland win. Pic by Sportsfile.

The minor squad firmly cemented their place among Ulster's 'big boys' as they produced a remarkable run to take the delayed 2020 All-Ireland minor championship.

They began the month by sealing the Ulster crown with a win over Monaghan, when an early Niall O'Donnell goal ultimately proved enough to get the Oakleafers over the line at Healy Park.

Unfortunate to lose Lachlan Murray to a red card, which was later overturned on appeal, the Derry side had been reduced to 13 following a sin binning for Charlie Diamond, but held on for the win.

A 1-14 to 1-7 victory over Leinster champions Meath was to follow the next week as the young side booked their place in the All-Ireland final against Kerry.

And what a game followed. Matthew Downey showed nerves of steel with a late, late penalty to give Derry a historic 2-12 to 1-14 win after a final five minutes of sheer drama.

It was the Oakleafers' first title since 2002, and manager Martin Boyle said the homecoming scenes were reminiscent of the 1990s.

“The scenes coming up the road in Magherafelt, Desertmartin and then in Ballinascreen – it was just incredible,” he said.

“It takes you back to the 90s and the warmth and feel good factor about Derry football. It's just magical.”

“We want to join the big boys in Ulster,” said senior football boss Rory Gallagher before Derry's much anticipated Ulster SFC clash with Donegal.

And Derry came close to toppling one of the big boys. So close. It was only the late swing of Paddy McBrearty's left foot that condemned Derry to a 0-16 to 0-15 defeat.

Derry were left disappointed in Ballybofey. Pic by Sportsfile.

A superb performance had seen the Oakleafers lead at one stage by 0-12 to 0-8, but the Tír Chonaill men reeled them in, pipping them at the post.

Manager Rory Gallagher said these were the days Derry should be looking to be involved in.

“You want to be playing against these teams, that's the best to learn and it is no disrespect to the lower divisions, but it is the Donegals, Tyrones, Monaghans and Armaghs, you have to learn from them,” he said.

“They learn how to win together and lose together. They don't get too up or they don't get too down. I think we were there today.”

However, there was heartbreak for the U20 side as Monaghan came away with a 2-9 to 0-11 win in their Ulster quarter final.

There was Ulster semi final heartbreak for the senior camógs, where a late Megan Kerr goal wasn't enough to prevent a 3-10 to 1-9 loss to neighbours Antrim in Loughgiel.

The senior ladies turned the tables on their Saffron neighbours, avenging their earlier defeat as a Ciara McGurk goal gave them a 1-7 to 0-7 opening win in the TG4 All-Ireland junior championship.

The senior hurlers got their Christy Ring Cup campaign underway with wins over Roscommon and Kildare to end the month as semi finalists, with Odhran McKeever in fine form for the Oakleafers.

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