Ulster U20 FC - Quarter-Final
Derry 5-12 Armagh 2-13

Michael McMullan
Reports from Owenbeg

A game that started off at a canter ended up a combination of mayhem, bravery and the highest of drama, as Derry came back from 10 points down to keep their title hopes alive.

Armagh were 0-8 to 0-5 ahead at the break, but there was a feeling that Derry - who registered nine first-half wides - would fashion a comeback.

Peter McDonnell's side were sharper and were following a totally different script.

Goals from Cian McConville and Conor Turbit had the visitors 2-10 to 0-6 ahead after 41 minutes.

Derry, who didn’t score for 16 first-half minutes, also lost Ben McCarron and Oisin McWilliams to injury.

"Had Armagh held on to that lead for any significant period of time then I think it (the game) probably was gone," admitted Derry boss Mickey Donnelly after the game.

It was time to look deep inside and Derry delivered in style, with Conleth McShane leading the charge when introduced.

Cassidy powered his way through the Armagh defence before firing to net for Derry's first goal.

"That let us believe again," Donnelly continued.

As it turned out, it was the ignition switch for their championship season.

Lorcan McWilliams, who misfired for much of the game, scored arguably Derry most important goal of the season and when Kealan Friel fired in a third – the game's fifth in five minutes – you could visibly see the self-belief surge through the system.

Conleth McShane had Derry two points ahead but back came Armagh to level the game through Tiernan Kelly and Turbit.

Then Paudie McGrogan took the game by the scruff of the neck to score Derry’s fourth goal, followed by an Ethan Doherty finish for the fifth - taking Derry to a semi-final with Fermanagh.

MATCH STATS:

Derry: Oran Hartin; Oran McGill, Conor McCluskey, Sean McKeever; Declan Cassidy (0-1), Paudie McGrogan (1-0), Fintan Bradley; Dara Rafferty, Jude McAtamney; Ben McCarron (0-3, 2f), Oisin McWilliams, Simon McErlain; Lorcan McWilliams (1-2, 1f), Mark McGrogan, Paul Cassidy (1-4).
Subs: Ethan Doherty (1-0) for O McWilliams (INJ 34), Conleth McShane (0-1) for B McCarron (INJ 39), Kealan Friel (1-0) for J McAtamney (42), Tiarnan McHugh for D Cassidy (58), Iarlaith Donaghy (0-1f) for P McGrogan (62),

Armagh: Conor Larkin; Conor McGuinness, Paul Martin, Sam McClarnon; Conor Cosgrove (0-1), Sean McCarthy, Ciaran Doyle; Cormac Smyth, Niall McCorry (0-1); Niall McGuinness (0-1), Tiernan Kelly (0-2), Ronan McGuinness; Cian McConville (1-1), Conor Turbit (1-6, 3f), Rioghann Meehan.
Subs: Thomas McCormack for S McCarthy (BC 18), Jack Molloy for S McClarnon (21), Eoin McConville (0-1) for R Meehan (HT), Louis Hughes for N McCorry (50), Odhran Magill for R McGuinness (51), Ronan Mallon for J Molloy (54).

Black cards:
S McCarthy (17)
Yellow cards: C Cosgrove (1)

Referee: D O’Hare (Down)

Attendance: 744

Further coverage in Monday's Derry News and Tuesday's County Derry Post.

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