DERRY SHC FINAL: Slaughtneil make it three in a row with rout of Swatragh

Slaughtneil celebrate after defeating Swatraghto win the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)
Slaughtneil celebrate after defeating Swatraghto win the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

Slaughtneil 5-26, Swatragh 1-05

Slaughtneil joined Kevin Lynch’s and Lavey on the three-in-a-row Roll of Honour of Derry Senior Hurling champions but nobody could have predicted they would trounce their parish neighbours Swatragh in such a ruthless and emphatic manner.

Slaughtneil's Cormac O'Doherty retains the sliotar ahead of Swatragh's Michael Warnock during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final on Saturday.  (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

Slaughtneil's Cormac O'Doherty retains the sliotar ahead of Swatragh's Michael Warnock during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final on Saturday. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

From the first whistle to last, the Emmet’s dominated with a superb exhibition of attacking hurling, their fitful semi-final display banished in an attacking performance that had everyone querying if such a scoring barrage had been seen before in a Derry final.

With Chrissy McKaigue giving a ‘Man of the Match’ first half performance in the midfield (and landing 0-6) and then as extra defensive cover as Slaughtneil ensured there would be no threat to their interval lead of 3-18 to 0-3, the Emmet’s feasted on the quality ball that poured down on top of an attack in irresistible form.

Swatragh were without their suspended inter-county full back Conor Quinn but its doubtful his presence would have made any difference such was the scoring threat across the Slaughneil attack.

“Our first half performance was amazing,” enthused a delighted Slaughtneil manager, Michael McShane, “We scored 3-18, and hit just two wides.

Slaughtneil captain Chrissy McKaigue with the Fr. Collins Cup following the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

Slaughtneil captain Chrissy McKaigue with the Fr. Collins Cup following the Derry Senior Hurling Championship Final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

“You just don’t get that every day you go out. I wish you did, but you don’t. All week I knew there was a big performance in these boys. All week I said there was a big performance in these boys.

“We had been disappointed by our performance against Kevin Lynch’s. We felt we didn’t perform, that we missed a lot of scores, and with all due respect to Lynch’s, we felt we should never have been going into extra-time.

“The only way to answer that is to go out the next day and perform to the very highest level. That’s what I asked of the players before the match. We said to forget about three-in-a-row, derbies, all that – go out and play to the best of your abilities.

“Throw off the shackles, don’t be scared to make a mistake, go and play with a bit of freedom and show everyone how good a team you are. I think they did that.”

They certainly did with seven points in the first 10 minutes with McKaigue imperiously hitting three.

Brendan Rogers hit the second point, Brian Cassidy the fourth, Cormac O’Doherty the next from a free, Mehaul McGrath then punishing a wayward Swatragh clearance for 0-7 to no score.

A delightful shimmy from Brendan Rogers set him up for the first goal in the 12th minute, a burst of points by O’Doherty from a free, Chrissy McKaigue, Brian Cassidy, McKaigue again and Cormac O’Doherty when he skipped past several challengers to split the posts for 1-12, twelve minutes from half time.

The second Slaughtneil goal came two minutes later from Brian Cassidy for 2-12 to no score. Further points from a Cormac O’Doherty free, Paul McNeill after Swatragh’s Sean Francis Quinn crashed the sliothar against the bar and O’Doherty from a Chrissy McKaigue pass.

The scoring onslaught continued in the closing minutes of the half with Mark McGuigan and Chrissy McKaigue finding the target before Sé McGuigan took a pass from Paul McNeill in added time to fire home the third goal.

Michael Kirkpatrick landed three points from frees but Cormac O’Doherty had an Emmet’s point for a huge 3-18 to 0-03 half time lead.

And there would be no let off as Slaughtneil continued at a relentless pace, Swatragh’s Sean McNicholl brilliantly hooked as he bore down on goal, the ball rolling gently wide of the posts.

Another foul brought another O’Doherty point, Brendan Rogers chalking up the 20th point in the 34th minute before O’Doherty again the tormentor for 3-21 t0 0-03.

In the 36th minute Mickey Conway lost possession as he carried the ball up the end line but he had the composure to clip the sliothar along the ground and Sean Francis Quinn knocked into the unguarded net.

O’Doherty chipped over another point, Kirkpatrick converted two frees for 3-22 to 1-05 midway through the second half, Brendan Rogers responding with an excellent point.

Sé McGuigan added a third goal with Cormac O’Doherty picking off points at will and with Brendan Rogers, in the 46th minute and Sé McGuigan, in 50th minute, adding goals Slaughtneil romped home.

“We focused on that before the game,” said McShane of the first half blitz, “We said if we could go out in the first 20 minutes and get a really fast start, like we did against Ballinascreen, and push on from there.

“But I honestly didn’t think we’d get the start we did. Our defence was superb, the forwards’ tackling was superb as well as their shooting. Any time Swatragh got the ball, we seemed to turn it over and go back on the attack. Our forwards were clinical – Chrissy, Brendan, Cormac, and wee Brian Cassidy - 17 years of age in there, I have a belief that if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter about your age.

“I took him off to save him for the minor hurling and football championships or he could have finished up with a whole lot more. We have scoring forwards and when you mix it up with work rate, anything’s possible.”

Slaughtneil scorers: Cormac O’Doherty 0-11 (4f), Brendan Rogers 2-02, Sé McGuigan 2-01, Chrissy McKaigue 0-06 (1f), Brian Cassidy 1-02, Mehaul McGrath 0-02, Mark McGuigan and Paul McNeill 0-01 each

Swatragh scorers: Michael Kirkpatrick 0-05f and Sean Francis Quinn 1-00

Slaughtneil: Oisin O’Doherty; Michael Kearney, Sean Cassidy, Brian Óg Corbett; Cormac McKenna, Mehaul McGrath, Paul McNeill; Brian Cassidy, Karl McKaigue; Cormac O’Doherty, Mark McGuigan, Gareth O’Kane; Brendan Rogers, Sé McGuigan, Chrissy McKaigue. (Subs) Peadar Kearney for S Cassidy, 40 mins; Jarlath Mulholland for B Óg Corbett, 40 mins.

Swatragh: Dermot McNicholl; Eugene McGuckin, Cathal McQuillan, Niall O’Doherty; Malachai O’Hagan, Seamus Bradley, Cathal Quinn; Michael Warnock, Patrick Turner: Sean McNicholl, Tommy McCloy, Ruairi Convery; Sean francis Quinn, Michael Conway, Michael Kirkpatrick. (Subs) Chrissy Convery for C McQuillan, 27 mins; Paddy Bradley for M O’Hagan, 33 mins; Niall McQuillan for S Bradley, 37 mins; Tiarnan O’Kane for C Quinn, 51 mins; Declan McGuckin for S McNicholl, 53 mins

Referee: Paddy McEldowney (Ballinascreen)