DERRY SHC: Slaughtneil cruise past Swatragh into fourth successive final

Slaughtneil's Meehaul McGrath with Malachi O'Hagan and Tommy McCloy of Swatragh during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)
Slaughtneil's Meehaul McGrath with Malachi O'Hagan and Tommy McCloy of Swatragh during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

McGurk Chartered Architects Derry SHC Semi Finals

Slaughtneil 1-29, Swatragh 0-10

Slaughtneil's Shane McGuigan and Declan McGuckin of Swatragh during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

Slaughtneil's Shane McGuigan and Declan McGuckin of Swatragh during the Derry Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Owenbeg. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin)

When these sides met in last year’s decider there was 32 points between them at the final whistle, 5-25 to 1-5.

At the final whistle last evening at Owenbeg the winning margin was 22 points but, in truth, the reigning champions were in cruise control from early in the game, despite the best efforts of a Swatragh side that battled in vain to the final whistle.

That Swatragh could muster four points from open play is testament to the gulf between the teams, Ruairi Convery landing four first half frees as Slaughtneil took a commanding 0-13 to 0-7 lead to the break against the wind.

In that opening period Brendan Rogers was in imperious form as he scored five points from play and finished the game with 0-7 from play. All the while Chrissy McKaigue sat deep and picked off loose Swatragh plays, pushing forward to land a point in the first half and two more in the second.

And then there was the unerringly accurate Cormac O’Doherty who racked up 0-12 over the hour with four frees in the first half and another eight in the second.

Eight minutes into the second half two Slaughtneil players collided as they both chased a dropping ball, Sean Cassidy taken to hospital by ambulance immediately after the game with suspected concussion.

Slaughtneil didn’t really have to unduly exert themselves in the final quarter, the only goal coming in the 48th minute with the score already at 0-21 to 0-7.

Gerald Bradley has been out of action with a cruciate ligament injury and he marked his 42nd minute return to competitive action with a goal six minutes later, finishing the game with another two points from open play as the Emmet’s cruised into their fourth successive final.

Slaughtneil scorers: Cormac O’Doherty 0-12f, Brendan Rogers 0-7, Gerald Bradley 1-2, Chrissy McKaigue 0-3, Conor McAllister 0-2, Cormac McKenna, Mark McGuigan and Meehaul McGrath 0-1 each

Swatragh scorers: Ruairi Convery 0-6 (5f), Michael Kirkpatrick 0-2 (1f), Sean Francis Quinn and Eugene McGuckin 0-1 each

Slaughtneil: Oisin O’Doherty; Ruairi McCartney, Karl McKaigue, Paul McNeill; Meehaul McGrath, Sean Cassidy, Shane McGuigan; Eanna Ó Caiside, Conor McAllister; Mark McGuigan, Sé McGuigan, Cormac McKenna; Cormac O’Doherty, Brendan Rogers, Chrissy McKaigue. (Subs) Gerald Bradley for C McKenna 41 mins; Brian Cassidy for M McGuigan 43 mins; Gareth O’Kane for C McKaigue 55 mins; Brian Óg Corbett for P McNeill 55 mins

Swatragh: Dermot McNicholl; Niall O’Doherty, Michael Warnock, Tiarnan O’Kane; Malachy O’Hagan, Patrick Turner, Cathal McQuillan; Conor Quinn, Eugene McGuckin; Mickey Conway, Ruairi Convery, Declan McGuckin; Sean Francis Quinn, Michael Kirkpatrick, Fintan McGurk. (Subs) Tommy McCloy for E McGuckin 26 mins; Kevin McAllister for C McQuillan 41 mins; Fintan O’Kane for D McGuckin 43 mins; Eugene McGuckin for K McAllister 60 mins.

Referee: Tarlach Conway (Ballinascreen)