DERRY 1-13 SLIGO 0-15
By Chris McNulty in Ballybofey for gaa.ie
Richie Mullan’s goal in the 43rd minute turned the tables in Derry’s favour as the Oak Leaf booked their place in an All-Ireland Minor semi-final.
Mullan tucked past Sligo goalkeeper Alan Davey to halt Sligo’s march and what had been a wasteful Derry on track for the last four.
Derry kicked 17 wides over the hour and a Red Óg Murphy-inspired Sligo were on course until Mullan was put clear by Tiarnan McHugh and kept his composure to put the wind into the Ulster champions’ sails again.
Derry felt a shadow of the team that beat Cavan 1-22 to 2-12 in the Ulster final last month, and Damian McErlain’s needed a late free from Patrick Quigg to book their tickets to Croke Park.
Murphy hit eleven points in all, including two frees in the closing stages, to get Sligo level, but Kilrea’s Quigg arched over a free as the game went into added time.
It looked as if it wasn’t going to be Derry’s day, but the Sperrin men improved in the second half to get over the line.
Murphy slammed over two frees to cancel out Richie Mullan’s early opener for Derry and Sligo were in the driving seat – they led from the 9th to the 43rd minute when Derry began their comeback.
Murphy and Ciaran O’Dowd helped to stretch the advantage, while midfielder Barry Gorman got in on the act for the Yeats County.
Derry were down two lynch-pins of their defence with full-back Conor McCluskey and wing-back Simon McErlain not deemed fit enough to start – but both were introduced at the break, when Derry trailed by four points.
On an afternoon when Murphy was in top form for Sligo, the absence of McCluskey, Derry’s noted man-marker, was particularly noticeable.
Derry were in for a goal in the 20th minute but, after giving the Sligo defence the slip, Pádraig McGrogan was denied by a strong save from Sligo ‘keeper Alan Davey.
Although Oisin McWilliams and Mullan were on the mark for Derry, Sligo finished the first period strongly, registering four of the half’s last five points – all of them from man of the moment Murphy – to send Sligo in 0-10 top 0-6 to the good.
Derry posted nine wides in a first half that ended with the handbags drawn at the mouth of the MacCumhaill Park tunnel.
Derry hit back at the outset of part two and came back to within two points before Mullan bagged the golden goal.
Scorers for Derry: Richie Mullan 1-2, Oisin McWilliams 0-4 (3f), Patrick Quigg 0-2f, Declan Cassidy, Tiarnan McHugh, Simon McErlain, Odhrán Quinn, Callum Brown 0-1 each.
Scorers for Sligo: Red Og Murphy 0-11 (7f), Barry Gorman 0-2, Ciaran O’Dowd, Cian Brett 0-1
DERRY: Oran Hartin; Oran McGill, Seán McKeever, Fergal Mortimer; Odhrán Quinn, Dara Rafferty, Conleth McShane; Pádraig McGrogan, Oisín McWilliams; Patrick Quigg, Richie Mullan, Declan Cassidy; Ben McCarron, Tiarnan McHugh, Cormac Murphy. Subs: Conor McCluskey for Cassidy (half-time), Simon McErlain for Murphy (half-time), Callum Brown for McShane (48), Mark McGrogan for McHugh (50), Martin Bradley for Rafferty (53), Conor Quinn for O.Quinn (60).
SLIGO: Alan Davey; Evan Lyons, Brian Cox, James Weir; Karl McKenna, Evan Lavin, Oisin Conlon; Niall Colsh, Barry Gorman; Roland Anderson, Luke Towey, Ciaran O’Dowd; Conall Ryan, Red Óg Murphy, Cian Brett. Subs: Oisin Higgins for Anderson (38), Conan Marren for Ryan (44), Ben Tuohy for Weir (47), Josh Ellis for O’Dowd (55), James Carroll for Brett (60).
Referee: James Molloy (Galway).