Daniel Duffy: Ulster pair mix it with the best in Ireland

Conn Kilpatrick, Cormac Quinn, Michael McKernan and Cormac Meyler clash with Séan O'Shea Credit: Inpho

What a weekend it was in the National League for two of Ulster's powerhouses.

Derry have been in red hot form in Division Two with four wins from four, but Saturday's game against Dublin was their biggest test to date.

In the first half, it wasn't the Derry side we've been used to seeing of late, cautious and wasteful in front of goal, the 'boys in blue' were well ahead at half-time.

Whatever was said at half-time by Rory Gallagher it worked, the first half was a blip.

The introduction of Gareth McKinless was key in the turnaround, adding energy to what had been a lacklustre performance.

When Brendan Rogers fired over for the Ulster Champions, almost all of the 12,000 spectators in Celtic Park erupted, this was a statement win.

If anyone thought last year was a one off for this Derry side, they were mistaken, the Oak Leafers are undoubtedly on an upward trajectory.

They look odds on to secure promotion to Division One, where they rightfully should be, it's a far cry from only a few years ago they found themselves in Division Four.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Tyrone rekindled their rivalry with Kerry at Healy Park.

Given their recent fortunes it's hard to believe that it's just 18 months since the Red Hands lifted the Sam Maguire.

Last year didn't go as well as they had hoped crashing out of the Ulster Championship to Derry and faltering against Armagh in the qualifiers.

They found themselves at the bottom of the Division One table, there was pressure going in, and the most daunting of tasks taking on the All-Ireland Champions.

When Sean O'Shea grabbed a goal for the Kingdom within two minutes, there was a collective sigh in the stand at Healy Park followed by one of disbelief as gaelic football's hottest property David Clifford fired over one of the best points you'll see this year.

Tyrone could have folded but they didn't, they dug in, they missed a couple of goal chances but when Shane Ryan fumbled into his own net, the gloom around the ground seemed to lift.

The Red Hands were playing with freedom, Mattie Donnelly back from his injury problems firing over a stunning score to ensure the game was level at half time.

Tyrone were exceptional second half, and deservedly claimed a much needed two points.

They hunted in packs and were clinical when chances arose and came through adversity when Kerry notched a second goal.

Mattie Donnelly claimed the Player of the Match award but a special mention to Padraig Hampsey who was tasked with taking care of David Clifford. Clifford didn't get much change out of Hampsey, only scoring one point from play.

Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan will hope this is a springboard to bigger and better things for the county and not a false dawn.

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