Right FROM the start of the league campaign, Ballinderry and Slaughtneil emerged the pacesetters in Division One and they maintained that status until the final day of the season as two of the four League semi-finalists.
Indeed, it was only in the last round of the regular season that Ballinascreen and Dungiven, who had both been in contention for semi-final places, actually confirmed their top four positions.
When the draws were made the pairings suggested a Ballinderry v. Slaughtneil final.
However Ballinderry decided not to field any of their starting XV from the side that defeated Dromore in the Ulster Club Championship, although they did field a side with seven players who had experienced Senior Championship action this season.
Ballinderry missed two penalties - one against the post, one saved - and they just fell short of overhauling an eight point deficit.
For their part, Ballinascreen came from two points down in the final quarter to defeat Slaughtneil by four points - 1-14 to 2-07 - to set up a final challenge against the side that hammered them in the Championship, a side they had hammered in a recent league meeting!
Dungiven will be without the suspended Mark Craig and the unavailable Davie McLaughlin from the team which overcame the Shamrocks, while Cathal McKeever and Gavan McLaughlin are on the injured list.
Ballinascreen will be without long-term injured players Brennan and Bradley, but they will have the side that overcame the Emmetts.
Both these clubs will be keen to get their hands on silverware, Ballinascreen having gone out at the quarter-final stage to Dungiven in the Championship; Dungiven at the semi-final stage to the eventual champions, Ballinderry while Dungiven will have to improve on their Ballinderry display to claim League honours.
Ballinascreen, therefore, are considered slight favourites to take the title for the first time in many years.
The final will be played tonight (Friday) in Sean De Brun Park, Bellaghy, with the throw-in at 8.00 p.m.
Around the County
The official opening of Craigbane’s new training facilities will take place tomorrow (Saturday) at 4.00 p.m. Among those in attendance will be Derry County Chairman, John Keenan and Ulster Council Secretary, Danny Murphy.
Craigbane will then hold a ‘Lily White Fight Night’ on Saturday, November 19th.
The Limavady Wolfhounds Club will hold their Annual Presentation Dinner in the Roe Radisson Hotel on Saturday, November 26th, a week earlier Ballerin will hold their annual ‘do’ in The Elk Restaurant.
The Glen Clubwill hold their end of year celebrations on November 12th.
Foreglen’s fund raising Golf Classic fell victim to the weather and will take place at a later date.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday last wek, October 26th, Derry held their second annual ‘Wall Ball Hurling’ competition in the Dungiven Sports Pavilion. This is an innovative initiative which helps players develop hurling skills indoor and in a different environment from a normal hurling training session.
The game is played in a 40x20 handball court and the rules are roughly based around the rules of handball and squash.
The game is considered excellent for improving players catching, first touch and striking as well as improving their speed and footwork. 5 clubs were represented at the finals.
The players who took part were - Joseph Grant (Swatragh), Sean Cassidy (Slaughtneil), Ciaran Steele (Kevin Lynch’s), Darragh Cartin (Banagher) and Reese Mc Sorley (Ballinascreen).
The players played-off a league section with each player playing one another once. At the end of the league section Ciaran Steele and Reese McSorley topped the table and went on to play in the final match. Reese came out on top in the final on a score line of 15–6 and was presented with a ‘Club Derry’ sponsored jersey for winning the competition.
Well done to all the players who took part, the standard was very good with all the players displaying a high level of skill.
A word of thanks must go to all the clubs and parents who supported the programme a made it a very worthwhile night’s hurling.