As expected Derry proved too strong for the students of UUJ in their second round PowerNI McKenna Cup game at Celtic Park last Saturday evening, they ran out comfortable 1-14 to 0-6 winners.
The students fielded without a number of their first team while Derry manager Brian McIver made several changes from the defeat to Tyrone as he handed out debuts to a number of players and gave others in the panel a chance to show what they can offer. McIver will have been pleased with the performances of some of his young charges making their debuts at senior level, Conor McAtamney, Daniel Heavron and in particular Ciaran McFaul who was outstanding throughout.
He produced a performance way beyond what would be expected of an eighteen year old making his debut at senior level. His passing and movement was top class while he finished off the only goal of the game with aplomb. The Derry manager will also be pleased to see the return of Glenullin man Gerard O’Kane after a long injury; he got a run for the last twenty minutes or so. Another interesting feature of an otherwise low key affair was Derry goalkeepers’ Thomas Mallon’s quickly taken and for the most part accurate kick outs to the wings.
After a very slow start when the sides were level twice at 0-1 and then 0-2 each it was only in the last fifteen minutes of the half that Derry pulled away. Three points in a five minutes spell from the 21st minute pushed the home side clear, the first of those coming from debutant Conor McAtamney of Swatragh, James Kielt and Eoin Bradley adding the others. In the 29th minute Collie Devlin had a great goal chance but his shot was saved James Kielt hitting the rebound over the bar.
The students hit back with long range point from a Richard Donnelly free before McFaul produced a sublime finish for the only goal of the game two minutes from the end of the first half. The young Glen prodigy drifted in behind the UUJ defence and was picked out by a sublime James Kielt pass; McFaul dummied the advancing goalkeeper, went round him and planted the ball in the empty net, Derry led 1-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Eoin Bradley did not come out for the second half having suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Lee Kennedy. The home side hit two points before the students came back with a point, scored by one of six Derry players starting on the UUJ side, Aaron Devlin, indeed his brother, Collie was playing in the red and white.
It was Collie who added to Derry’s tally before Ciaran McFaul pounced on a break ball to neatly steer over for Derry to lead 1-10 to 0-4. As the game moved into the last quarter there was no real sign that the students were going to cause much consternation despite a point from a Colm Duffin free. Derry went on to add four points in a row as the game petered out to its inevitable conclusion. Donnelly tapped over a free for UUJ before James Kielt completed the scoring for Derry to win with eleven points to spare.
With Tyrone winning two from two they are odds on to beat UUJ in their final outing to top the group and go into the semi-finals. Derry and Antrim meet at Celtic Park this Wednesday evening with the winner still in the hunt for a semi-final place as the best second placed team from the three groups.
Derry team: Thomas Mallon; Carlus McWiliams, Dermot McBride, Brian McCallion; Conor McAtamney, Mark Lynch, Phillip Bradley; Blain Gormley, P J McCloskey; Enda Lynn, Ciaran McFall, Daniel Heavron; Colin Devlin, Eoin Bradley, Kames Kielt.
Substitutes used: Lee Kennedy for E Bradley (ht), Kevin Johnston for C McAtamney (53), Gerard O’Kane for B McCallion (54), John McCamley for P J McCloskey (59), Ryan Ferris for E Lynn (64).
Derry scorers: Ciaran McFall (1-0), James Kielt (0-5, 0-2 frees), Eoin Bradley (0-2, 0-1 free), Collie Devlin (0-2), Phillip Bradley (0-1), Conor McAtamney (0-1), Carlus McWilliams (0-1), Enda Lynn (0-1)
UUJ: Mark McReynolds: Kevin Nugent, Rory Moore, Dwayne Quinn; Eoin Wade, Gerard McCartan, Eunan Deeney; Colm Duffin 0-1, Chrissy McKaigue; Richard Donnelly (0-2, 2f), Aaron Devlin (0-2, 1f), Gregory McGovern; Gavin O’Neill, Emmett McGuckin (0-1), Declan Lynch. Substitutes: Shane McGarrity for G McGovern (44) Chris McCarron for R Moore (44), Ruari Corrigan for G O’Neill (50), Gearoid Rennick for C Duffin (60).
UUJ scorers: Richard Donnelly (0-2 frees), Aaron Devlin (0-2, 0-1 free), Emmett McGuckin (0-1), Colm Duffin (0-1)