Derry outlast Dublin on penalties in epic league final

Derry secured their first Allianz National Football League Division 1 title since 2008 as they edged Dublin on penalties in their thrilling decider at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.

There was a huge level of anticipation in advance of the final and both teams more than delivered in a contest that will long in the memory.

Ultimately, it was Derry’s ability to keep their nerve in the penalty shootout that made the difference as Shane McGuigan, Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty all confidently despatched their attempts while Con O’Callaghan, Loran O’Dell and Tom Lahiff were denied by a mixture of the crossbar and Odhran Lynch’s heroics.

Derry made the stronger start, backed as they were by the strong breeze blowing towards the Davin End, with Shane McGuigan adding a point from play to his earlier free as his side enjoyed a two-point advantage.

It didn’t take Dublin too long to find their collective stride as Lom Lahiff opened their scoring in the 5th minute before Con O’Callaghan restored parity through a 7th minute free.

Dublin sent the game to extra-time with a last-second goal

However, their opponents enjoyed a period of mini-dominance as they kicked three points on the bounce as McGuigan converted his second free in the 10th minute with Ethan Doherty and Niall Loughlin also on target for Derry in the ensuing two minutes.

Dublin were in need of some inspiration at this stage and it duly arrived in the form of a typically classy Brian Howard point in the 15th minute before Dublin pounced for the game’s opening goal a minute later.

There appeared scant danger as a tame Killian McGinnis point attempt dropped short but Odhran Lynch didn’t cover himself in glory as his punched clearance fell into the path of Colm Basquel, who fired home from eight yards.

Sean Bugler and Lachlan Murray exchanged points as the half evolved with Cian Murphy and Brendan Rogers did likewise in the 28th minute to leave Dublin a point ahead.

Their lead didn’t last too long as Eoin McEvoy levelled matters on the half-hour mark with O’Callaghan’s second free edging Dublin back in front, briefly at least.

McGuigan popped over a point on the counter-attack and while Basquel regained Dublin’s lead entering added time, Murray’s precise score left the teams deadlocked at 1-7 to 0-10 by the interval.

Football League final recap: Derry beat Dublin on penalties

Dublin resumed on the front foot through points by Niall Scully and McGinnis but that early momentum was stalled in the 40th minute as referee Conor Lane awarded a penalty after consulting his umpires with Eoin Murchan adjudged to have pushed Doherty in the act of shooting.

McGuigan made no mistake from the spot kick and Derry could well have had another goal in the 42nd minute but Paul Cassidy saw his low shot drift agonisingly wide of Evan Comerford’s right-hand upright.

While O’Callaghan levelled matters soon after, there was no doubting Derry’s dominance at this stage and they made that control count as McEvoy raced through unopposed for a cracking finish in off Comerford’s crossbar.

A point from Loughlin moved Derry four points clear but with the contest drifting to a degree, Dublin dug deep to kick the next three points through Lahiff, Ross McGarry and O’Callaghan.

Conor Glass enjoyed a hugely influential second-half with his two-point salvo and an excellent McEvoy point restoring Derry’s four-point lead by the 56th minute.

Substitutes Paul Mannion and Paddy Small hit back for Dublin but Murray’s point from a ‘mark’ in the 61st minute looked set to hand Derry sufficient breathing room.

However, that proved Derry’s final score of normal time and with Seán McMahon and McGarry on target, Dublin forced extra-time as Murphy was impeded, allowing O’Callaghan to restore the deadlock by full-time.

Eoin McEvoy slams home Derry’s third goal

The first period of extra-time belonged to the respective Number 26s with Niall Toner kicking two points at one end while Killian O’Gara did likewise at the opposite end.

Another superb McEvoy goal looked to have handed Derry sufficient breathing room in the second period but with Brian Fenton dismissed for retaliation, Dublin launched one final delivery that O’Callaghan knocked into the path of Greg McEneaney, who found the roof of the net.

Paddy Small was then dismissed as both teams lost their discipline for a time but it was Derry who had the cooler heads when it mattered, as they showed the composure that should serve them well as the championship commences.

Derry: Odhran Lynch; Conor McCluskey, Chrissy McKaigue, Diarmuid Baker; Conor Doherty (0-01), Eoin McEvoy (2-02), Pádraig McGrogan; Conor Glass (0-02, 1 ‘45’), Brendan Rogers (0-01); Ethan Doherty (0-01), Ciaran McFaul, Paul Cassidy; Niall Loughlin (0-02), Shane McGuigan (1-04, 1-00 pen, 0-02f), Lachlan Murray (0-03, 1m).

Subs: Gareth McKinless for McGrogan (ht), Niall Toner (0-02) for McKinless (52), Cormac Murphy for Loughlin (66), Donncha Gilmore for P Cassidy (70), Emmett Bradley for Murray (77), Declan Cassidy for McKaigue (81), Eunan Mulholland for C Doherty (88).

Dublin: Evan Comerford; Seán MacMahon (0-01), Cian Murphy (0-02), Eoin Murchan; John Small, Brian Howard (0-01), Tom Lahiff (0-02); Brian Fenton, Killian McGinnis (0-01); Ross McGarry (0-02), Seán Bugler (0-01), Ciaran Kilkenny; Niall Scully (0-01), Con O’Callaghan (0-5f), Colm Basquel (1-01).

Subs: Paul Mannion (0-01) for McGinnis (52), Paddy Small (0-01) for Basquel (57), Lorcan O’Dell for Scully (57), Killian O’Gara (0-02) for McGarry (70), Theo Clancy for Murchan (80), Cian O’Connor for MacMahon (81), Greg McEneaney (1-00) for Bugler (86).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).


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