For a county that failed to defend any of its three All Ireland titles prior to last year’s success, one particular defense still provides a moment of astonishment from its supporters.
In 2006 Derry came to Omagh. At half-time, Derry was 6-0 and Tyrone 0-0. It’s correct. No grades at all. Derry stopped to shock the footballing world and current co-manager Brian Dooher, a man from near the county line, had much to hear in the months following that game.
It’s a day that has gone down in Ulster Championship folklore. Many threads were woven into the day’s story, from then-manager Paddy Crozier bringing the late Eamonn Coleman into the dressing room for a rousing speech, to the scenes in the tunnel afterwards with grown men weeping over a first-round match.
When asked about his memories of the day, Dooher replies, “They’re not great and that shows you what Derry is capable of. And I would say they’re probably a better team now.”
The quarter-finals on May 1st will be held in Omagh but Dooher doesn’t think Tyrone has a good record on home turf.
“We didn’t play a lot of league football in Omagh. I’m sure Derry wouldn’t mind coming to Omagh, it’s a pitch with two goalposts at either end,” he replies in his characteristic way.
“They were unlucky not to get promoted. They have been the in-form team in league football for the last two years.
“They have made great strides under Rory Gallagher and present us with a great challenge.
“They should be in Division 1 I think. You have Galway, Roscommon and Derry and there is no kick of ball between them.
“So we know what to expect. You will be hard working, fit and very organized.”
The success of Derry’s schools and clubs should not be forgotten, stresses Dooher.
“They have some great footballers,” he continues.
“You have the Glen team, you have the Slaughtneil team backing them and you have good minors and under-20s in recent years.
“So they have a lot of quality and a lot of pedigree running through their team.
“Derry is back up there now, they’re more or less at the top of the table, that’s how I see them, and they deserve to be there.”
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