Glen crowned Derry senior champions for first time after defeating Slaughtneil

O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship Final

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th November 2021, 4:50 pm

Watty Graham's, Glen 1-13, Slaughtneil 0-07

The long wait is over, Glen are the Derry senior football champions for the first time and it's unlikely to be the last time this Watty Graham team lifts the John McLaughlin Cup.

Malachy O'Rourke's team had breezed through to the final but were expected to face stiff competition from reigning champions, Slaughtneil. Instead they simply reaffirmed their dominance of 2021 to win with plenty to spare.

Glen celebrate their first ever Derry senior Championship title after defeating Slaughtneil in Celtic Park on Sunday. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Put simply, they were a class above and will take some stopping even on the provincial front. With Ciaran McFaul puling the strings in the opening half and Conor Glass the dominant force after the break, the likes of Ethan Doherty, Danny Tallon and Paul Gunning broke lines and caused chaos with the game over as a contest long before referee Sean Curran's final whistle.

Slaughtneil never got anywhere near their brilliant best but they weren't allowed to and perhaps a long gruelling season fighting on two front finally caught up on with a remarkable club.

Despite Slaughtneil having won five of the previous seven Derry county titles, it was Glen who started with the look of seasoned championship winners as they went in search of that elusive first John McLaughlin Cup.

With McFaul in the 'quarterback' role and revelling, the first half was one of the most one sided witnessed in a county final as Glen cantered to a 1-06 to 0-1 lead, Tallon's late goal just reward for a hugely impressive opening 30 minutes from Malachy O'Rourke's men.

All over the pitch they were winning their individuals battles with powerful, purposeful running punching holes in a normally miserly Slaughtneil backline. Emmet's dangerman Shane McGuigan was being shadowed by Ryan Dougan but his lack of support meant Glen sweeper Michael Warnock was able to double up on the Derry forward and completely negate his first half contribution.

Three shots was all the reigning champions managed, two of those flying wide and only Brendan Rogers' 20th minute point to show for 31 minutes of football.

At the other end, Ethan Doherty was causing havoc, drawing a yellow card from marker Meehaul McGrath who was struggling to keep up with the jet heeled half forward. All the while McFaul was the attacking base on which Glen's championship bid was being built and he didn't let them down, hitting three high quality point from play before the short whistle.

All over the pitch Glen were in control and that 31st minute Tallon goal put the seal on an emphatic half had more than one hand on the cup. It basically ended the game as a contest. Conor Glass was the architect, chasing an overhit hand pass and reaching just it time to flick it through to Tallon whose run from out to in was timed perfectly to allow him to tap home a lovely finish for a richly deserved eight point interval lead.

Slaughtneil switched Chrissy McKaigue to midfield for the second period, with Padraig Cassidy moved into the half-forwards and it certainly made the Emmet's more competitive with a second target inside.

It never looked like being enough though and even the improved Slaughtneil performance barely registered as Glen cruised through with plenty to spare.

An early McGuigan mark suggested Slaughtneil were not going to go down without a fight but Glen's response , a 50m Conor Glass free, highlighted the gulf between the teams on the day. That was followed by another Glass score as the big midfielder took a grip on the second half.

Slaughtneil did have a sniff of a goal four minutes after the break when Shane McGuigan found Paudie Cassidy but rather than shoot, Cassidy tried to find Brian Cassidy at the back posts and Michael Warnock, as he had been all day, was in the right place at the right time to clear.

It was a as close as Slaughtneil ever got. A 43rd minutes black card for Fionnbarr McGuigan compounded a day to forget for Slaughtneil. They have been worthy champions but this felt like a changing of the guard.

With Glass dominating the game, Glen strolled through the final stages to claim their first Derry senior title. They are replacing one of the best teams Derry has seen in Slaughtneil but this was Glen's day and the dawning of a new era in the Oak Leaf county.

Slaughtneil scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-1, 1m), Brendan Rogers (0-1), Christopher Bradley (0-3, 2f), Paudie Cassidy (0-1),

Glen scorers: Danny Tallon (1-2, 2f), Conor Carville (0-1), Ciaran McFaul (0-3), Conor Glass (0-3, 1f), Emmett Bradley (0-2, 2f), Paul Gunning (0-1, 1f), Jack Doherty (0-1)

Slaughtneil: Antoin McMullan, Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue, Fionnbharr McGuigan, Christopher McKaigue, Keelan Feeney, Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy, Gerald Bradley, Ronan Bradley, Meehaul McGrath, Christopher Bradley, Shane McGuigan, Brian Cassidy. (Subs) Conor McAllister for R Bradley, 26mins; Se McGuigan for G Bradley, 35mins; Sean Cassidy for F McGuigan, 55mins; Mark McGuigan for P Cassidy, 56mins

Black Card: F McGuigan, 43mins

Watty Grahams, Glen: Conlan Bradley, Michael Warnock, Ryan Dougan, Connor Carville, Tiarnan Flanagan, Ciaran McFaul, Ethan Doherty, Conor Glass, Emmet Bradley, Eunan Mulholland, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery, Paul Gunning, Danny Tallon, Conleth McGuckian. (Subs) Conor McDevitt for E Mulholland, 43mins; Stevie O'Hara for P Gunning, 54mins; Alex Doherty for C Convery, 54mins;

Referee: Sean Curran (Faughanvale)