Leadon Timberframe Derry Senior Hurling Championship final
Slaughtneil 1-23, Kevin Lynch's 2-12
Slaughtneil scored a seventh successive Derry senior hurling crown but were made to fight all the way by a dogged Kevin Lynch's side that had the reigning champions on the ropes for long periods of an enthralling final.
The crowd of 3,574 in Owenbeg were treated to a gripping decider which swung one way, then the other before Slaughtneil eventually edged clear in the final minutes thanks largely to the imperious free taking of Cormac O'Doherty who finished with am amazing 0-16, 14 of which were from placed balls.
Brendan Rogers' 53rd minute goal was the game's critical score, the dual star showing superb pace along the right side before cutting in and finishing at the second time of asking after miscuing with his initial effort.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of a Kevin Lynch's side that had battled back from a slow start to lead until the 49th minute with the winning margin of eight points disguising a much closer game.
Reigning champions, Slaughtneil, started in style, building a five point lead by the end of the first quarter with Oak Leaf county star O'Doherty lethal from frees on his way to a first half tally of 0-07.
By the 15th minute, Slaughtneil appeared to have one hand on the trophy such was their dominance at 0-6 to 0-1. Kevin Lynch's hadn't got a foothold in the game but forget the game of two halves, this was a half of two quarters and the second belonged to the Dungiven men whose route one approach to Tiernan McHugh caused Slaughtneil trouble all afternoon.
The was a fight back inspired by Mark Craig's rather fortunate 20th minute goal. Craig's shot was little more than a long, hopeful ball forward but the heavy pitch produced only a slight bounce which deceived every one and saw the ball finish in the back of the Emmet's net.
Crucially, Slaughtneil full-back Sean Cassidy who had been superb under the high ball was absent from the edge of the square having produced a trademark high catch and drive before Lynch's turned over possession.
The goal tied the game at 0-7 to 1-04 and had Lynch's believing that an upset was possible as they went score for score with the 2017 Ulster champions for the remainder of a half that finished with the sides level at 0-10 to 1-07.
That was in stark contrast to an opening quarter in which everything Slaughtneil touched turned to points. An O'Doherty free got them off and running before a flowing move ended with Brendan Rogers scoring a fine second point.
Lynch's were presented with the perfect opportunity to get on the scoreboard on five minutes when Cassidy was adjudged to have hauled Lynch's full forward Tiarnan McHugh down and referee Tarlach Conway signalled a penalty. Up stepped Richie Mullan who struck his shot well but it cleared the bar by inches.
That looked costly as three O'Doherty frees and a brilliant individual effort from Jerome McGuigan effort gave the Emmet's that five point lead.
However, Niall Ferris score a peach from his own '65' before Corey O'Reilly began to find his range from frees with two of his own for 0-7 to 0-4.
The goal changed the momentum of the half, Sean Kelly's introduction off the bench for Kevin Hinphey giving Lynch's an added attacking dimension as he hit two fine scores in the final seven minutes of the half.
The half ended with Liam Og Hinphey finding Odhran McKeever with a beautiful pass to which the corner forward gave the perfect finale to send the sides into the changing rooms level.
If the second quarter belonged to Lynch's, the third got even better as McHugh found the net within 20 seconds of the restart. The big front man was giving Slaughtneil a torrid time and proving the perfect outlet for Lynch's direct approach but his goal was superb, bursting through on to a loose ball before firing a low shot that squirmed under Morgan McEldowney.
That provided a three point lead at 2-07 to 0-10 and Lynch's were well worth it with only O'Doherty's free taking keeping the champions in touch.
Slowly but surely, O'Doherty edged his side back into the game, levelling with 11 minutes left before Brian Cassidy's point, after Lynch's Niall Smyth appeared to be fouled, saw them hit the front with a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Rogers' goal gave them breathing space and even though Richie Mullan brought the deficit back to two at 1-17 to 2-12, Slaughtneil finished the stronger as Lynch's lost Liam Og Hinphey to a second booking in injury time.
By that stage the game was gone and Slaughtneil were in seventh heaven. After a succession of comfortable finals, this was anything but and the celebrations at the end illustrated what it meant with the Derry champions now looking forward to an Ulster date with Armagh champions, Midleton.
Slaughtneil scorers: Cormac O'Doherty (0-16, 14f), Brendan Rogers (1-2), Jerome McGuigan (0-2), Brian Cassidy (0-2), Karl McKaigue (0-1),
Kevin Lynch's scorers: Tiarnan McHugh (1-0), Mark Craig (1-1), Richie Mullan (0-3, 2f, 1pen), Niall Ferris (0-1), Corey O'Reilly (0-5, 4f), Sean Kelly (0-1), Odhran McKeever (0-1)
Slaughtneil: Morgan McEldowney; Karl McKaigue, Sean Cassidy, Michael McEldowney; Shane McGuigan Sean O Caiside, Meehaul McGrath; Gerald Bradley, Christopher McKaigue; Mark McGuigan, Cormac O'Doherty, Brian Cassidy; Se McGuigan, Jerome McGuigan, Brendan Rodgers.
(Subs) Conor McAllister for J McGuigan, 48mins; Peadar Kearney for C McKaigue (blood sub), 54mins (reversed 54mins); Peadar Kearney for M CMEldowney, 56mins;
Yellow Cards: Sean Cassidy, 56mins
Kevin Lynch's: Brian Lagan; Niall Smyth, Patrick Kelly, Conor Kelly; John Mullan, Mark Craig, Liam Og Hinphey; Eoghan Cassidy, Thomas Brady; Kevin Hinphey, Niall Ferris, Corey O'Reilly; Odhran McKeever, Tiarnan McHugh, Richie Mullan.
(Subs) Sean Kelly for K Hinphey, 21mins; Padraig O'Kane for O McKeever, 45mins; Ciaran Mackle for C O'Reilly, 47mins;
Yellow Cards: Liam Og Hinphey, 35 & 60mins;
Red Cards: Liam Oh Hinphey, 60mins.
Referee: Tarlach Conway (Ballinascreen)