Slaughtneil dismantle Kevin Lynch's to secure eight Derry titles in succession
Leadon Timerframe Derry Senior hurling Championship Final
Slaughtneil 0-23, Kevin Lynch's 0-11
COVID-19 has changed almost every social and sporting facet of society. Everything that is except the destination of the Derry Senior Hurling Championship.
Slaughtneil made it eight Oak Leaf county crowns in succession in Celtic Park on Sunday with a 12-point victory that became a second half victory procession for Mickey McShane's team against a Kevin Lynch's side who ran out of steam after the break.
Geoffrey McGonigle's men were excellent in the opening half, putting in some huge hits to force the champions back but backed by a considerable breeze, they shot too many wides and ultimately had no answer when Slaughtneil turned the screw after half-time with the wind now at the Emmet's backs. Cormac O'Doherty finished with 0-12 and it's hard to believe his first point didn't arrived until almost 24 minutes had elapsed.
The first half was one of two quarters with the water break - fast becoming one of the least welcome additions to Gaelic games - once again dictating a momentum swing that worked against the team who had been in the ascendancy.
Lynch's had started superbly with Eoghan Cassidy magnificent as they tore into the reigning champions. Every tackle had the intensity of a team wounded by seven years of watching their biggest rivals lift the county crown. That breeze swirling around Celtic Park was in Lynch's favour but the opening 16 minutes were not about the elements, they were about Lynch's getting a foothold in the game, something they managed and more and they built a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
There were only 15 seconds on the clock when Niall Ferris signalled their intent, splitting the posts with a lovely point and while Gerald Bradley equalised for the Emmet's, the champions were playing second fiddle.
Tiarnan McHugh, Odhran McKeever and Darragh McGilligan were winning their fair share of frees and Cassidy was revelling from them. Three frees from the midfielder had the Dungiven men 0-5 to 0-1 up before Cassidy showed he was just as adept from play as Lynch's increased their lead to five points.
Impressive Slaughtneil minor Shea Cassidy reduced the deficit to four but the champions were relieved to see the water break which would have been more about getting reorganised to any need for re-hydration.
And sure enough, Mickey McShane used the time wisely, Slaughtneil re-emerging from their huddle to outscore Lynch's 0-5 to 0-1 for the remainder of the opening half.
With McShane's words ringing in their ears, the intensity levels of the champions went up a notch and suddenly Lynch's accuracy deserted them as they went on to register 11 first half wides.
Slaughtneil hit five of their own but were much more efficient, Cormac O'Doherty (2), Brendan Rogers and Brian Cassidy scoring four times without reply and suddenly the final had a very different complexion.
Another O'Doherty free had the Emmet's in front and while Darragh Gilligan brought Lynch's level before half-time, the game now had a feeling of Lynch's letting an opportunity slip.
That feeling was confirmed after the break, the champions finding their stride with the elements to outscore Lynch's 0-16 to 0-4 in the second period and it was every bit as emphatic as that sounds. Lynch's stayed with the champions in the opening minutes, Slaughtneil even indebted to a superb Meehaul McGrath block on a John Mullan shot but once Rogers did brilliantly to edge his side in front at 0-11 to 0-10 on 38 minutes, there was no way back for the Dungiven men.
Cassidy's free for Lynch's on 36 minutes was their 10th point but their 11th didn't arrived until the 58th minute and in between, Slaughtneil ran riot with Sean Cassidy superb and O'Doherty dead-eye with almost every shot.
The champions had their goal chances but they didn't need them, they won this one from a long way out and they must now hope the GAA will reconsider the decision not to hold the provincial and All Ireland club championships.
Lynch's showed in the opening half they are emerging as a real force and this year probably came too early for them. They will be back to challenge next season without doubt and that considerable challenge will be waiting for them.
Slaughtneil scorers: Cormac O'Doherty (0-12, 9f, 1 '65'), Brendan Rogers (0-3), Gerald Bradley (0-1), Shea Cassidy (0-2), Brian Cassidy (0-2), Mark McGuigan (0-1), Jerome McGuigan (0-2)
Kevin Lynch's scorers: Niall Ferris (0-3), Eoghan Cassidy (0-6, 4f), Darragh McGilligan (0-1), Padraig O'Kanre (0-1)
Slaughtneil: Oisin O'Doherty, Sean O Caiside, Sean Cassidy, Paul McNeill, Conor McAllister, Shane McGuigan, Meehaul McGrath, Gerald Bradley, Christopher McKaigue, Mark McGuigan, Cormac O'Doherty, Brian Cassidy, Se McGuigan, Brendan Rogers, Shea Cassidy. (Subs) Jerome McGuigan for S Cassidy, 58mins;
Yellow card: S McGuigan, 29mins
Kevin Lynch's: Sean Kelly, John Mullan, Paddy Kelly, Liam Og Hinpphey, Ciaran SteeleConor Kelly, Mark Craig, Eoghan Cassidy, Richard Mullan, Kevin Hinphey, Niall Ferris, Thomas Brady, Odhran McKeever, Tiarnan McHugh, Darragh McGilligan. (Subs) Padraig O'Kane for O McKeever, 49mins; Shea McKeever for K Hinphey, 57mins;
Yellow card: K Hinphey, 54mins; E Cassidy, 60mins;
Referee: Eamon Hasson (Swatragh)