Ballinderry 0-09, Slaughtneil 1-08
Slaughtneil became only the third club in Derry GAA history to complete the senior Championship double after Gerald Bradley’s injury time goal denied Ballinderry a fourth successive football title in Celtic Park.
The Shamrocks were one point up as an ill tempered final drifted into injury time and Chris Bradley sent a high sideline ball in toward the Ballinderry goal. With players from both sides leaping, Bradley got the faintest of touches to help the ball toward the bottom corner. Shamrocks keeper Mickey Conlan scrambled across to drag the ball out but the umpires ruled it had crossed the line.
That decision saw the game end in ugly scenes as players and officials from Ballinderry remonstrated with referee Anthony Campbell and his umpires who had to be helped off the pitch.
Ironically the goal signalled the only time in the game the Emmet’s had been in front. They controlled possession for much of the game but Ballinderry’s experience looked to have got them over the line until that grandstand finish.
The holders started with the wind at their backs and were a point to the good inside two minutes when Raymond Wilkinson scored from a free following a foul by Slaughtneil’s Peadar Kearney which earned the Emmet’s man an early booking.
Despite facing into the breeze, Slaughtneil were controlling proceedings and got themselves back on level terms through Chris Bradley but Conletih Gilligan quickly restored the Shamrocks’ advantage courtesy of another free.
Ballinderry’s decision to constantly rotate their full-forward position looked a back-handed compliment to Slaughtneil’s Chrissy McKaigue as the holders deliberately attempted to drag to McKaigue into the full-back position.
It was designed to limit McKaigue’s influence going forward but it enjoyed only limited success as Raymond Wilkinson and Padrig Kelly swapped points to leave it 0-3 to 0-2 by the 13th minute.
Quick thinking from James Conway sent Wilkinson away to point but again Slaughtneil regrouped and brought it back to a one point game thanks to a Padrig Kelly score.
Despite lying deep and looking to hit Slaughtneil on the break the Shamrocks accounted for the game’s next three points although their joy was tempered by a black card for Aaron Devlin following a high tackle on Francis McEldowney. Devlin who was replaced by McKinless.
It could have been worse though as Paul Bradley passed up a gilt edged goal chance after being put clear on the left by Chris Bradley but the full forward dragged his shot across the face of goal and wide.
That was on 26 minutes as frees from Gilligan and Devlin, as well as an outrageous effort from McKinless with his first touch, put Ballinderry into a 0-7 to 0-3 lead with half-time approaching.
Chrissy McKaigue had the final say of the half with point hooked over his shoulder but at 0-7 to 0-4, the Emmet’s looked happy enough with the wind at their backs for the second period.
The sides swapped scores upon the restart with Chris Bradley and Gilligan on target but the Emmet’s were guilty of passing up a couple of scorable frees although Padrig Kelly did make amends by bring it back to 0-8 to 0-6 on 32 minutes.
The game descended into a tetchy affair as both players needlessly got involved in off the ball incidents which disrupted the flow of the match and saw the scoreboard unmoved for 15 minutes.
Paul Bradley eventually broke the stalemate with an excellent free that took Slaughtneil to within a point at 0-8 to 0-7 on 50 minutes.
When Kelly then brought the sides level from a free with five minutes remaining it was game on but Ballinderry responded through a Collie Devlin free which looked to have secured the title.
One minute into injury time, with the blue and white ribbons being prepared on the trophy, Chris Bradley’s high sideline changed the scenario completely and paved the way for Bradley to punch Slaughtneil into the history books.
Ballinderry Shamrocks: Michael Conlan; Ryan Scott, Gareth McKinless, Kevin McGuckin; Darren Lawn, Conor Nevin, Raymond Wilson; Enda Muldoon, James Conway; Raymond Wilkinson (0-2), Colin Devlin (0-3, 3f), Dermot McGuckin; Conleith Gilligan (0-3, 3f), Ryan Bell, Aaron Devlin. (Subs) Daniel McKinless (0-1) for A Devlin (Black Card) 26 mins; Michael McIver for D Lawn, 40mins; Darren Conway for R Wilkinson, 57mins
Emmet’s Slaughtneil: Anton McMullan; Peadar Kearney, Brendan Rodgers, Karl McKaigue; Francis McEldowney, Chrissy McKaigue (0-1), Barry McGuigan; Patsy Bradley, Paudie McGuigan; Padrig Kelly (0-4, 2f), Christopher Bradley (0-2), Ronan Bradley; Gerald Bradley (1-0), Paul Bradley (0-1, 1f), Se McGuigan. (Subs) Conan Cassidy for P Kearney, H/T; Cormac O’Doherty for S McGuigan, 53mins; Padraig Cassidy for R Bradley, 60mins;
Referee: Anthony Campbell (Magherafelt)