DERRY IFC: Castledawson defeat Slaughtmanus to make Intermediate decider

Niall Keenan, in action here against Neil Forrester of Steelstown, was superb as the St. Malachy's secured a spot in the Derry Intermediate Final. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)
Niall Keenan, in action here against Neil Forrester of Steelstown, was superb as the St. Malachy's secured a spot in the Derry Intermediate Final. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

Small & Hyland Chartered Accountants Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final

Castledawson 0-12, Slaughtmanus 0-08

By virtue of this narrow two points win over a wasteful Slaughtmanus, Castledawson advanced to their first final since 2010 where they had a 0-11 to 0-10 win over Steelstown

After the early morning torrential rain, the elements relented and Owenbeg was bathed in sunshine, although a stiff breeze still made life difficult for players. However, that can be no excuse for the ultra-defensive fare served up in the first half, both sides bringing a dozen (and more at times!) players behind the ball.

It was cat and mouse football with attacks repeatedly breaking down against a defensive phalanx and no surprise that the sides were level at 0-03 each after an uninspiring 20 minutes!

Adie Bradley pointed in the 2nd minute, Adrian O’Kane pointing a free three minutes later. A superb point from the outstanding Aidan Keenan put Castledawson back in front but Slaughtmanus levelled with a pointed Conor McGee free.

Keenan landed another point in the 12th minute for 0-03 to 0-02 but a surging run from the impressive Kyle Gallagher set up Adie O’Kane to tie the scores for the third time.

In the 24th minute Niall McNicholl put Castledawson back in front and in the final minute of the half Aidan McElhone converted a free to give Castledawson a 0-05 to 0-03 interval lead.

Within a minute of the restart Aidy Bradley had added two points to open up a three-point gap that was hugely significant in the context of a closely contested game, especially with the mercurial Niall Keenan standing guard in the Castledawson defensive line.

Indeed, Keenan dispossessed Gavan McShane superbly and then popped up in attack to restore Castledawson’s three-point advantage after O’Kane had pointed a free and McShane also scored from a tight angle.

Still Slaughtmanus showed great resilience and Gallagher set up Eddie Devine for a point, with McGee converting another free.

At 0-08 to 0-07 behind in the 40th minute Slaughtmanus were well placed but poor decision making and careless finishing ensured that Slaughtmanus would score just one more point as Aidy Bradley, Kieran O’Kane and Aidan Keenan pointed to put the game beyond their reach.

Castledawson: Dara Shivers, Manus McAllister, Niall Keenan (0-1), Martin O’Kane, Rian Connery, Paddy Henry (0-1), Danny Devlin, Aidan McElhone (0-1, 1f), Declan Lavery, Aidy Bradley (0-3), Ruairi Shivers, Niall McNicholl (0-1, 1f), Conor Taggart, Aidan Keenan (0-3), Kieran O’Kane (0-1). (Subs) Luke Doyle (0-1) for D Devlin (inj) 8 mins; Conor Scullion for R Shivers 45 mins; Ruairi Shivers for A Bradley 61 mins; Kieran Lavery for L Doyle 63 mins

Slaughtmanus: Ronan Cooke, Conor Lynch, Ryan Barr, Adrian Deery, Cahir Cooke, Kyle Gallagher, Fergal Hargan, John Robertson, Ian Doherty, Eddie Devine (0-1), Gavin McShane (0-1), Aidy O’Kane (0-2, 2f), Conor McGee (0-3, 3f), Barry Lyons, David Quigg.(Subs) Jack McConomy for F Hargan (inj) 33 mins; Caolan Watson for E Devine 46 mins; Christopher Deery for R Barr 58 mins

Referee: Alan Nash (Doire Trasna)