All-Ireland SFC: Derry advance to last four
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final
Derry 1-12 Cork 1-8
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Ruthless when they needed to be, back to back Ulster champions Derry are safely through to the last four of the All-Ireland SFC.
A strong third quarter performance from Ciaran Meenagh's men, which yielded 1-4 and a 49th minute sucker punch goal from Conor Doherty which came immediately after a Cork major, helped propel the Oak Leafers to victory.
They should have won by more as Shane McGuigan, who top scored for Derry, won a 72nd minute penalty but winced as his shot was saved by Cork goalkeeper Micheal Aodh Martin. McGuigan fired another wide shortly after, neatly suggesting just how much Derry still have in the tank as they look forward with optimism to a July 15/16 All-Ireland semi-final.
Eoghan McSweeney responded to that McGuigan penalty drama with a point for Cork who trailed by four in the closing moments and they pushed hard for a goal but it never arrived as Derry held on.
Unfortunately for Cork, their season is now over but Derry, who were inspired by Man of the Match Gareth McKinless, will march on confidently.
With two losses from their opening three Championship games, and coming up against an unbeaten Derry side, Cork were naturally underdogs and the first 25 minutes or so played out upon anticipated lines.
Derry led 0-6 to 0-2 at that stage with McGuigan, Ethan Doherty and Paul Cassidy all helping themselves to a brace of points each. It wasn't Derry at their free-flowing best but they were purposeful and efficient.
Cork only scored once from play in that period, Colm O'Callaghan's sixth minute point following a turnover at the other end of the field.
Both sides set up in containment mode with a clear focus on punishing the opposition on the break.
Cork created plenty of opportunities but blasted six first-half wides, leaving Derry in a strong position with 10 minutes or so to go in the half.
Surprisingly, Derry didn't score again until early in the second-half as Cork suddenly began to get some pay off for all their pressure. The Munster outfit's strategy was to press hard on the Derry kick-out or, when attacking, to wait patiently on the edge of Derry's defensive screen before feeding a runner to attack the line at pace.
That's how their third point in the 27th minute materialised with Ian Maguire playing a pop pass over the top for Ruairi Deane to run onto and fist over.
Steven Sherlock then won a 45 that he converted for Cork before they reverted to type with a penetrating run in behind Derry's defence by Kevin O'Donovan along the right endline that resulted in another fisted score.
Suddenly, Cork had whittled down Derry's advantage to just a point with the Oak Leafers just 0-6 to 0-5 up at the break.
The individual matchups were carefully thought out by either backroom; fit again Derry defender Chrissy McKaigue and Eoghan McEvoy picking up Sherlock and Conor Corbett respectively. Derry dangerman McGuigan was tracked by Tommy Walsh at first before Maurice Shanley switched onto him. Brian Hurley was only fit enough for a place on the Cork bench due to an ankle issue.
A simmering quarter-final encounter came to the boil during a more open third quarter in which Derry finally put some clear daylight between the teams.
They reeled off 1-4 in this period, Doherty's 49th minute goal from close range at the Hil 16 End taking all the wind out of Cork's sails following a brilliant goal from Rory Maguire just seconds earlier.
Maguire had cleverly palmed to the net after a hand-pass by Corbett from the left end-line which split open the Derry rearguard.
That goal left Cork just a point behind but the Derry goal in response and another converted free from McGuigan quickly reestablished a five-point margin.
It was the game's turning point because while Cork refused to throw in the towel and got the deficit down to three at one stage in the run in, they never managed to get any closer.
A brace of points from Derry midfielder Brendan Rogers in the 62nd and 66th minutes set the seal on victory with the Slaughtneil man punching the air in celebration each time.
Scorers for Derry: Shane McGuigan 0-4 (0-4f), Conor Doherty 1-0, Paul Cassidy 0-2, Ethan Doherty 0-2, Brendan Rogers 0-2, Niall Loughlin 0-1, Ciaran McFaul 0-1.
Scorers for Cork: Rory Maguire 1-0, Steven Sherlock 0-2 (0-1f, 0-1 45), Kevin O'Donovan 0-1, Colm O'Callaghan 0-2, Ruairi Deane 0-1, Chris Og Jones 0-1, Eoghan McSweeney 0-1.
Derry: Odhran Lynch; Chrissy McKaigue, Eoghan McEvoy, Conor Doherty; Conor McCluskey, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan; Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers; Paul Cassidy, Ciaran McFaul, Ethan Doherty; Niall Toner, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin.
Subs: Benny Heron for Toner 46, Lachlan Murray for Loughlin 56, Padraig Cassidy for McFaul 59, Shea Downey for McEvoy 66, Paul McNeill for Ethan Doherty 73.
Cork: Micheal Aodh Martin; Daniel O'Mahony, Tommy Walsh, Maurice Shanley; Kevin O'Donovan, Rory Maguire, Matty Taylor; Colm O'Callaghan, Ian Maguire; Killian O'Hanlon, Brian O'Driscoll, Sean Powter; Ruairi Deane, Conor Corbett, Steven Sherlock.
Subs: Eoghan McSweeney for O'Hanlon 40, Chris Og Jones (0-01) for Powter 50, Brian Hurley for Sherlock 56, John O'Rourke for O'Driscoll 59, Paul Walsh for Deane 66.
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).