Slaughtneil's second half stroll against Portaferry sets up Ulster decider against Dunloy

Ulster Club Senior Hurling Semi FinalSlaughtneil 2-24, Portaferry 0-11

GOAL: Slaughtneil's Jerome McGuigan. (Photo: George Sweeney.  DER2239GS – 022)
GOAL: Slaughtneil's Jerome McGuigan. (Photo: George Sweeney. DER2239GS – 022)

Portaferry were no match for Slaughtneil in Corrigan Park as the reigning provincial champions ran out easy winners in their Ulster SHC semi-final clash in Belfast on Sunday.

With both teams inactive for the previous six weeks, it was the Down champions who started best but by the third quarter the Derry men had got into their rhythm and their five point interval lead was quickly extended to 10 on the restart. In the second half, Slaughtneil outscored the Ards men by 2-14 to 0-6 as the three-in-a-row Ulster chasers set up another meeting with Antrim holders, Dunloy in two week’s time.

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Slaughtneil never gave the Portaferry forwards even the sniff of a goal chance. The good news for the Emmet’s was the return of Sean Cassidy for a first seasonal appearance after injury. Short of match practice, he made way at half time but still showed in the first half what his team had been missing. In front of the defence Shane McGuigan and captain Cormac O’Doherty dominated midfield once they shook the early rust off while in attack, Sean Cassidy had the game of his life scoring 1-07.

Cormac O’Doherty and Brian Cassidy were sublime at times in this one-sided semi-final. Cassidy’s late sideline cut was the icing of the cake after an inventive display. Sean Cassidy landed the first of two second-half goals for Mickey McShane’s side along with substitute Jerome McGuigan.

Conor O’Prey came into the side at wing-forward and opened up an early lead for Portaferry who were full value for it too, but Finn Turpin whizzed over a beauty from the touchline to shake Slaughtneil from their slumbers.

O’Doherty then got down to business with continued accuracy from frees, and the marksman would finish with nine in total. With 10 minutes left in the half it all clicked for the Derry champions. Cassidy walloped over three points as Slaughtneil led by double scores, 0-10 to 0-05, at half-time.

Slaughtneil put the match to bed early after the resumption. Portaferry’s goalkeeper, Pearse Smyth, was unfortunate his excellent save from Shéa Cassidy’s low drive rebounded to Cassidy for a simple finish.

With O’Doherty topping up the Derry men’s tally, O’Prey tried in vain the other end but it was the luxury of Jerome McGuigan goal off the bench that further showed the strength in depth manager Mickey McShane has on offer ahead of a mouth watering Ulster final on December 4th.

Portaferry: Pearse Smyth; Darragh Mallon, Tom Murray, Ronan Smyth; Barry Trainor, Caolan Taggart, Emmett O’Neill; Matthew Conlan, Shane Conlan; Finn Turpin 0-02, Connor Mageen, Conor O’Prey 0-04 (0-01f); Tom McGrattan 0-02, Daithí Sands 0-01, Ronan Blair 0-02 (0-02f). Subs: Conor Fay for Blair (47), Padraig Doran for S Conlan (51), Ciaran Savage for Smyth (54), Niall Milligan for McGrattan (57).

Slaughtneil: Oisín O’Doherty; Paul McNeill, Chrissy McKaigue, Karl McKaigue; Seán Cassidy, Meehaul McGrath, Conor McAllister; Shane McGuigan 0-04, Cormac O’Doherty 0-09 (0-09f); Peter McCullagh 0-01, Brendan Rogers 0-03, Ruairí Ó’Mianáin; Brian Cassidy 1-07 ( 0-2f), Sé McGuigan, Shéa Cassidy. Subs: Seán Ó’Caiside for S Cassidy (ht), Jerome McGuigan 1-00 for Sé McGuigan (43), Gerald Bradley for Shéa Cassidy (43), Mark McGuigan for Ó’Mianáin (47), Eamon Cassidy for Meehaul McGrath (58).

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Referee: Colm McDonald (Antrim)