Lavey defeat Derry champions Slaughtneil to lay down Championship marker
O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship
Slaughtneil 0-10, Lavey 2-07
It's not as much a changing of the guard as a line in the sand and while it remains only the group stages, this felt significant.
Lavey had questions asked of them after a shock round one defeat to Swatragh. A team lauded as one of the future heirs to Slaughtneil's crown had flattered to deceive but those same questions raised by that defeat were emphatically answered in Owenbeg on Saturday evening.
It wasn't even the result against the reigning champions, it was the manner in which it was achieved. This was no backs to the wall, underdog's day type of win. From start to finish Lavey were a gear above Slaughtneil who struggled with the Erin's Own tactics and never got anywhere near their best.
It's an old coaching phrase that you can't mark pace and Lavey had it in abundance. When that incisive counter-attacking speed was married with a fiercely intensive defensive display that smothered anything the Emmet's could throw at them, it was a match made in heaven.
Slaughtneil had made one change from the side that easily defeated Claudy in their first game with Meehaul McGrath coming in for Sean Cassidy but Lavey had them all at sea at times in the opening half. The Erin's Own tactic of rotating a lone forward inside between the trio of Cailean O'Boyle, Declan Hughes and Matthew Downey caused Slaughtneil all sorts of trouble and coupled with a counter attack possessing blistering pace, it left the reigning champions playing second fiddle.
The confusion sown by Lavey's attack also robbed Slaughtneil of their normal runners from deep, with neither Brendan Rogers nor Karl McKaigue making their customary breaks forward which provide Slaughtneil with such an attacking platform.
Lavey, content to allow Slaughtneil possession, defended the '45', targeting Emmet's playmaker Christopher Bradley with Oran Downey following 'Sammy' everywhere and often backed up by Eamon McGill. It meant the Slaughtneil's build up was laboured and pedestrian at times in contrast to the lightning quick Lavey.
The one fly in the Lavey ointment was Shane McGuigan. Many plans have tried to curtail the Emmet's talisman and many have failed and this one was no different. McGuigan accounted for 0-8 of Slaughtneil's tally of 10 but that in itself highlighted the Emmet's problem on a night when only three players got their name on the scoreboard.
It was a game that got away from the champions before they had worked it out and Shea Downey's sixth minute goal was the catalyst for that. Slaughtneil were 0-2 to 0-1 up, McGuigan and Christopher Bradley replaying to an early free from the excellent Callum Downey after the Lavey man made a wonderful high catch under pressure inside the Emmet's '45' .
Both side were still finding their feet when Cailean O'Boyle's superbly disguised hand pass opened up Slaughtneil and released Hugh McGurk bursting into the '45. McGurk picked out Matthew Downey who in turn fed Callum Downey. Lurking at the back post was another Downey and Matthew pass was perfect to leave Shea Downey with the simple task of finding the empty net.
As well as three points, the goal proved the confidence injection Lavey required and they never looked back. Indeed they would not be caught for the rest of the game.
Slaughtneil bossed possession but found themselves directed down blind alleys or shepherded into crowds of Lavey backs as Ern's own turned around at half-time leading 1-06 Straight to 0-6 courtesy of further points from Niall Toner, Enda Downey (2f), Kevin O'Neill and Eamon McGill.
Within second of the restart it was evident Slaughtneil was trying to remedy their lack of runners from deep as Chrissy McKaigue, Karl McKaigue and Brendan Rodgers all launched raids forward but the pattern had been set.
Indeed, just as Slaughtneil were trying to build up a head of steam, they were hit with the sucker punch of a second Lavey goal which owned everything to a great run by Calum Downey. Downey's run down the right opened things up for Toner whose effort was brilliantly stopped by Antoin McMullan but unfortunately for the Slaughtneil keeper, O'Boyle was on hand to tap the rebound into the empty net for 2-06 to 1-07.
By this stage, Shane McGuigan had been brought out the field but Slaughtneil's hopes were dealt a huge blow when Patsy Bradley was black carded in the 49th minute for hauling down Toner as Lavey launched yet another break upfield.
Down to 14 for all but the final minute, Slaughtneil almost pulled it out of the fire i the last minute when a long hopeful ball in found its way to Cormac O'Doherty yards from the goal. O'Doherty did well to get his shot away in what little time he had but his low effort was blocked by Ciaron O'Boyle who was off his line quickly to produce a vital stop.
There was to be no reprieve for the champions and Lavey had laid down a marker. The caveat remains though that this is only the group stages and Slaughtneil remain the team to beat. However the pool of challengers is growing and, if they can maintain this level of performance, to the list that includes Magherafelt and Glen, you can now add Lavey!
Slaughtneil scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-8, 2f, 2 '45'), Christopher Bradley (0-1), Sean Cassidy (0-1),
Lavey scorers: Shea Downey (1-0), Cailean O'Boyle (1-1), Callum Downey (0-1, 1f), Niall Toner (0-1), Enda Downey (0-2,2f), Kevin O'Neill (0-1), Eamon McGill (0-1)
Slaughtneil: Antoin McMullan, Peadar Kearney, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue, Sean O'Caiside, Christopher McKaigue, Keelan Feeney, Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy, Ronan Bradley, Cormac O'Doherty, Meehaul McGrath, Christopher Bradley, Shane McGuigan, Brian Cassidy. (Subs) Se McGuigan for Mc McGrath, 48mins; Sean Cassidy for R Bradley, 48mins; Francis McEldowney for S O'Caiside, 53mins; Fionnbarr McGuigan for P Kearney, 55mins;
Yellow Card: B Cassidy, 26mins; Black Card: P Bradley, 49mins;
Lavey: Ciaron O'Boyle, Aidan Toner, Conor Mulholland, James McGurk, Hugh McGurk, Shea Downey, Eamon McGill, Kevin O'Neill, Declan Hughes, Calum Downey, Enda Downey, Matthew Downey, Niall Toner, Cailean O'Boyle Oran Downey. (Subs) Damien Chivers for C O'Boyle, 55mins; Liam Murphy for D Hughes, 57mins; Ryan Mulholland for C Downey, 60mins;
Yellow Card: C Mulholland, 52mins;
Referee: Sean Curran