Derry deny Power's troops
Freak goal and loss of Malone key factors in defeat
There was no 'what if' moment or hard luck story to cling on to after the long journey to Owenbeg on Saturday as Wexford's bid to defeat two Ulster sides in succession was thwarted by a composed and clinical Derry side in this All-Ireland Senior football championship round 2B qualifier.
Derry 1-16 Wexford 0-10
The home side held the advantage on the scoreboard from the first minute to the last and, while their goal near half-time was of the extremely lucky variety, nobody could dispute their overall superiority as they ended up with nine points to spare.
This was a real trip into the unknown for the Wexford team and supporters, with throw-in at this impressive centre of excellence just outside Dungiven delayed by ten minutes to facilitate the crowd of 3,797. It was the perfect setting for a game of this stature as the covered stand quickly filled on a day when conditions deteriorated with every passing minute.
Rainfall from an early stage ensured that the ball was slippery and hard to handle, although the Wexford mentors will no doubt still rue the amount of possession given away cheaply during the first-half in particular when a number of moves broke down between midfield and the full-forward line.
Derry captain Mark Lynch won the toss and opted to play with the wind blowing towards the entrance end, with the home side setting up along expected lines. They deployed a two-man full-forward line of Caolan O'Boyle and Eoin Bradley, with the latter showing no signs of wear and tear after playing Europa League soccer with Glenavon in Belarus less than 48 hours earlier.
The Derry duo were man-marked by Naomhan Rossiter and Simon Donohoe respectively while Mark Lynch, who was in the left corner for the throw-in, drifted out towards the '40 and Danny Heavron, wearing number 13, dropped back to aid his defence. It meant that for long spells of the first-half Wexford had two sweepers in Graeme Molloy and Joey Wadding, but a poor last ten minutes when they conceded 1-3 without reply saw them drift rapidly out of contention.
Eoin Bradley tapped over the opening point from a free after 38 seconds following an off-the-ball tug by a defender, with the outstanding Seán Leo McGoldrick involved a couple of times along with Benny Heron before Enda Lynn doubled the Derry lead in the fifth minute.
Wexford's first two scoring attempts from Adrian Flynn landed short and went wide respectively before Ben Brosnan got them off the mark midway through the opening quarter from a free earned by Simon Donohoe.
Derry responded with a Caolan O'Boyle point from a Liam McGoldrick handpass, but Ciarán Lyng hit back via his right boot after a solo run into open space by Tiarnan Rossiter when a kick-out was helped into his path.
The locals tacked on two points from frees by Mark Lynch, with Adrian Flynn collecting a yellow card for the first challenge. And Derry midfielder Fergal Doherty entered the notebook shortly afterwards for a bone-shuddering hit on Brian Malone whose influence on the game ended there and then. He was left wide open and Doherty didn't spare him, with the experienced midfielder having to be replaced at half-time after shipping another high tackle - a big blow to Wexford's hopes.
While Ben Brosnan shot wide from a free awarded for a foul on Michael O'Regan, the gap was narrowed to 0-5 to 0-3 in the 25th minute when Ciarán Lyng converted one after Malone was taken down. A neat score from play followed, with O'Regan collecting the Derry kick-out and feeding Adrian Flynn who played a one-two with Kevin O'Grady before finishing in style.
Wexford would have been happy with their lot at this stage, trailing by the minimum without ever imposing themselves against a side playing with wind advantage. It was as close as they got though, and the scoreboard bore a very different complexion by the break when Derry led by 1-8 to 0-4.
Caolan O'Boyle was fouled on a solo after winning a kick-out over Naomhan Rossiter's head, with Mark Lynch converting before the killer blow arrived in the 30th minute. Fergal Doherty popped up in the right corner and utilised his strength to shake off a challenge before handpassing across to O'Boyle.
The corner-forward used his hands to cannon the ball off the crossbar and Brian Malone simply couldn't hold on to the rebound as it struck him and ended up in the net. Ciarán Lyng kicked the third Wexford wide of the half from a free on their next attack, and Derry ended the half on a high note as Benny Heron pointed a '45 after Anthony Masterson saved superbly from Eoin Bradley while sweeper Danny Heavron came forward to split the posts.
Wexford resumed with Colm Kehoe and Eoghan Nolan on at midfield for Malone and Syl Byrne respectively, while James Breen replaced Joey Wadding in defence. Derry meanwhile moved full-back Chrissy McKaigue to midfield in a straight swap with Niall Holly, and they conceded the first point when Ciarán Lyng was on target from a free after a good run by Kehoe.
That gap of six wasn't reduced any further though, with Derry keeping their rivals comfortably at arm's length and defending in numbers to ensure Wexford didn't get any goalscoring chances. The victors were proficient on the break too, stringing some nice moves together which ended in points, with wing-back Seán Leo McGoldrick continuing to lead their charge.
Benny Heron pointed from a placed ball before Ciarán Lyng missed one for the first of Wexford's five second-half wides. A couple of weak Wexford kick-outs were punished by scores from Mark Lynch and Liam McGoldrick as the gap widened to nine (1-11 to 0-5), and there was to be no way back for the visitors.
Pointed frees were exchanged by Ben Brosnan and Mark Lynch, the former after a foul on Eoghan Nolan and the latter when Kieran Butler slipped and touched the ball on the ground.
Ciarán Lyng provided the only second-half highlights with two exquisite points from play, with the first arriving via his right boot after a one-two with Adrian Flynn in the left corner in the 50th minute (1-12 to 0-7).
Mark Lynch added another Derry point from a free before Eoghan Nolan got his name on the scoresheet, with Benny Heron drilling in a low Derry cross which crashed off the shins of Caolan O'Boyle and flew over the bar (1-14 to 0-8).
Lyng's second sweet point arrived via his left peg this time, before Kevin O'Grady kicked a wide and three Derry backs were booked in quick succession. The outcome was in no doubt by that stage though as the first of the supporters opted for an early exit, with Paddy Byrne and John Tubritt replacing Michael O'Regan and O'Grady respectively.
Ben Brosnan closed Wexford's scoring from a free which was re-taken after encroachment, with Lyng, Brosnan and Tubritt bringing the overall wides tally to eight by the end (ten for Derry).
Graeme Molloy had a half-chance for a goal which was well blocked by Niall Holly, injuring an ankle in the process. However, with just a minute left, the management wisely opted not to use a sixth substitute as the outfield players still on the bench - Jamie Carty, Robbie Vallejo, Páraic O'Keeffe, Kevin Rowe and Jim Rossiter - are all still eligible for the All-Ireland Junior semi-final against Kerry in Dungarvan on July 25.
Wexford: Anthony Masterson; Graeme Molloy, Simon Donohoe, Naomhan Rossiter; Rob Tierney, Adrian Flynn (0-1), Joey Wadding; Syl Byrne, Brian Malone (o.g.); Kieran Butler, Ciarán Lyng (capt., 0-5, 2 frees), Tiarnan Rossiter; Kevin O'Grady, Michael O'Regan, Ben Brosnan (0-3 frees). Subs. - Eoghan Nolan (0-1) for Byrne (HT), Colm Kehoe for Malone, inj. (HT), James Breen for Wadding (HT), Paddy Byrne for O'Regan (64), John Tubritt for O'Grady (64).
Derry: Thomas Mallon; Oisín Duffy, Chrissy McKaigue, Dermot McBride; Liam McGoldrick (0-1), Brendan Rogers, Seán Leo McGoldrick; Niall Holly, Fergal Doherty; Enda Lynn (0-1), Danny Heavron (0-1), Benny Heron (0-2, 1 '45, 1 free); Caolan O'Boyle (0-3), Eoin Bradley (0-1 free), Mark Lynch (capt., 0-6, 5 frees). Subs. - Terence O'Brien for Doherty (61), Karl McKaigue for Rogers (62), Conor McAtamney (0-1) for Lynn (67), Conor Murphy for Bradley (69).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).