DERRY GAA: Slaughtneil defeat Dunloy to make Ulster Hurling final
AIB Ulster Senior Hurling Club Championship semi-final
Slaughtneil 1-18, Dunloy 2-08
Slaughtneil will meet Ballygalget in the 2017 Ulster Senior Hurling Championship final after defeating Antrim champions Dunloy by seven points in front of 6,1142 at Owenbeg in Sunday.
Mickey McShane's Derry champions started sluggishly and found themselves 1-04 to 0-01 down after 12 minutes before blitzing the Cuchullains with an unanswered 1-08 in 12 minutes to completely change the game's momentum.
From there, the past masters of game management showed all their experience as a late Paul Shiels' goal gave the scoreboard a bit of gloss following a second half in which Dunloy managed only three points beforehand that late strike.
In contrast, Slaughtneil moved seamlessly through the gears, Gerald Bradley and goalscorer Chrissy McKaigue particularly impressive as the much vaunted Dunloy front-line was frustrated.
At the other end Cormac O'Doherty recovered from an uncharacteristically wayward opening quarter to finish with 0-11.
A superb first half saw the Antrim champions forge ahead with a brilliant early display that kept the Emmet's scoreless from play until Brendan Rogers 19th minute point which brought the Derry men back to within a goal.
Dunloy were sensational for those opening 12 minutes, first to every break and battling as if their lives depended on it.
They were helped by an strangely off the pace Slaughtneil who were probably paying the price for not having as much hurling under their belts as the Antrim men. Even O'Doherty who, after opening the scoring with a free on 53 seconds, passed up four other opportunities he would normally snap up with ease seemed slightly ring rusty.
Points from Shiels and Eoin McNeill put Gregory O'Kane's team 0-2 to 0-1 up before Nigel Elliott took a superb catch before showing great pace to get away from Meehaul McGrath and producing a brilliant low finish across Oisin O'Doherty and into the far corner.
The Antrim side were flying and couple with those few misses, some of the huge Slaughtneil contingent in the crowd were beginning to get nervous.
The should have known better.
O'Doherty hit a couple of frees and once Rogers registered their first from play, the Emmet's machine ruthlessly clicked into top gear.
Ten minutes later the game had changed beyond all recognition.
O'Doherty (2), Se McGuigan, Gerald Bradley and Chrissy McKaigue had Slaughtneil 0-9 to 1-4 ahead, Bradley's point the pick of them as he caught a Dunloy free and sent it back over the bar in a style almost to signal, Slaughtneil were ready to take charge.
That moved Slaughtneil into position within minutes Slaughtneil had the goal that really put them in the driving seat. Again, McKaigue was instrumental and fortune favours the brave as his long ball in toward the posts saw Brendan Rogers challenge Dunloy keeper Ryan Elliott and the ball end up in the net with Rogers claiming the final touch ahead.
It gave Slaughtneil a 1-09 to 1-06 interval lead and from there they were never in too much trouble during a second half that failed to live up to the opening 30 minutes.
With Bradley and Karl McKaigue controlling the Emmet's backline, Dunloy's shooting became more frustrated during the second period as they realised the game was going away from them.
Slaughtneil turned the screw and that late goal from Shiels, which was followed by a needless red card for Conal Cunning, was only academic.
The Derry champions will be favourites for the October 22nd final which kick-start a pivotal few weeks. Next week the club's footballers are in Newry to meet Kilcoo in the Ulster Club Championship, seven days before that hurling decider.
Slaughtneil: Oisin Doherty; Karl McKaigue; Sean Cassidy, Mark McGuigan; Meehaul McGrath, Shane McGuigan, Paul McNeill; Conor McAllister, Chrissy McKaigue (0-1); Gerald Bradley (0-1), Sean Cassidy, Brendan Rogers (1-2); Se McGuigan (0-1), Brian Cassidy (0-2), Cormac O'Doherty (0-11, 7f, 1 '65').
(Subs) Cormac McKenna for Sean Cassidy (inj), 10mins; Gareth O'Kane for Sean Cassidy, 34mins.
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, James McKeague, Paudie Shivers; Kevin McKeague, Connor McKinley, Kevin Molloy; Ciaran Elliott, Paul Shiels (1-4, 4f); Nigel Elliott (1-0), Gabriel McTaggertt (0-1), Keelan Molloy (0-1); Eoin O'Neill (0-1), Ally Dooey, Conal Cunning.
(Subs) Nicky McKeague (0-1, 1f) for C Elliott, H/T; Chrissy Brogan for A Dooey, 38mins; Shane Dooey for G McTaggertt, 41mins; Eamonn Smyth for P Shivers, 48mins;
Referee: James Clarke (Cavan)