Robert Emmets Slaughtneil claimed their ninth Derry senior hurling championship title on Sunday evening with a win over Kevin Lynch's. Pic by Mary K Burke
LEADON TIMBERFRAME DERRY SHC FINAL
KEVIN LYNCH HC 2-9
Slaughtneil survived a late scare to win a ninth successive senior hurling title in Sunday afternoon’s decider at Owenbeg.
Two goals from Conor Kelly helped Kevin Lynch’s cut the margin to four points with five minutes to go, but Slaughtneil had enough composure to hold on, setting up an Ulster semi-final clash with Dunloy in December.
The win came at a cost, with skipper Cormac O’Doherty forced off with a shoulder injury that puts his involvement against Lavey in Saturday’s football semi-final in doubt.
It was a 15th title for the Emmet’s and leaves the Kevin Lynch’s still waiting to get their hands on the Fr Collins Cup for the first time since 2011.
Slaughtneil’s win was built on Brian Cassidy’s early goal, control of Kevin Lynch’s puck-out and a steady last ten minutes to close out the game.
Shane Elliott was forced to alter his line-up, with Liam Hinphey in goals for his first appearance since last year’s county final, after regular goalkeeper Niall McGonagle picked up an injury on reserve football action earlier in the week.
Niall Ferris shortens his grip as Brendan Rogers moves in for the hook. Pic by Mary K Burke
There was a return for Tiarnán McHugh and while he started at wing-forward, Kevin Lynch’s rotation in their attack with Conor and Sean Kelly saw him later move to the inside forward line.
Adrian Armstrong wore number 15, but went to centre-back on Cormac O’Doherty, with Richie Mullan dropping off to play as a sweeper. It allowed Karl McKaigue to operate in a free role at midfield, where he rotated with Gerald Bradley who spent time free as a playmaker in defence.
Like last year’s clash at Celtic Park, the wind left conditions difficult. After winning possession from the throw-in, Lynch's built an early attack and recycled the ball to John Mullan, who slotted over after 30 seconds.
A free from O’Doherty and a point from Rogers, after a Brian Cassidy turnover, had Slaughtneil back in front.
The champions then received the perfect boost through a 7th minute Brian Cassidy goal. Hinphey’s short puck-out was intercepted by Cassidy and after taking a pass from Cormac O'Doherty, he drilled an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Jerome McGuigan eyes the ball. Pic by Mary K Burke
Cassidy and Shane McGuigan then missed chances to cement the Slaughtneil dominance.
A long-range point from Gerard Bradley, on the end of Paul McNeill’s pass, sprung Slaughtneil into life again and there was an air of inevitability as Slaughtneil were on course for a comfortable win. O’Doherty added two frees and the champions led 1-5 to 0-2 lead at the water break.
A push by Meehaul McGrath on Shea McKeever handed Richie Mullan with a chance to notch a first Kevin Lynch’s score in nine minutes, but they would then held scoreless for the remainder of the half.
At the beginning of the second half, a diagonal Rogers ball to Brian Cassidy was won at the second attempt and he setup Sé McGuigan for a score. Karl McKaigue, despite shipping a late tackle from Shea McKeever, was able to steady himself to curl over the bar as Slaughtneil began to tighten the screw once more.
Cormac O'Doherty carries the ball out of the ruck surrounded by Lynch's players. Pic by Mary K Burke
Their purple patch continued when Chrissy McKaigue’s pass played Brian Cassidy in for an excellent point on the turn, as he continued his man of the match performance.
Their running game was beginning to put pressure on Kevin Lynch’s and they almost had a second goal, but Rogers’ tame low effort was easily saved by Hinphey.
As the first half entered the four minutes of allocated additional time, three O’Doherty frees stretched their advantage to 11 points, 1-11 to 0-3.
There was the first of two Kevin Lynch’s revivals in the early moments of the second-half. After being kept waiting out on the pitch by the Emmet’s, they had a rampant start.
A pass from Conor Kelly had McHugh in for a point in the first attack, followed by excellent efforts from distance from Richie Mullan (free) and Odhran McKeever.
Sean Kelly and Mark Doherty do battle in the air. Pic by Mary K Burke
A fine team effort involving Rogers, Chrissy McKaigue and Sé McGuigan was finished by Brian Cassidy to break the Kevin Lynch’s momentum.
It was followed by a third for Brian Cassidy from a Jerome McGuigan pass and Slaughtneil looked like cruising to a comfortable win, leading 1-14 to 0-7.
But the drama was about to begin. Kevin Lynch’s engineered their first goal in the 47th minute. Odhran McKeever provided the pass and Conor Kelly powered an unstoppable shot past Oisin O’Doherty at the near post, cutting the margin to 1-15 to 2-7 at the second water break.
A Jerome McGuigan point looked to have stemmed the time, but Kelly slammed a second goal – again from a Odhran McKeever. Kelly added an inspiration point after Kevin Lynch’s forced a turnover.
Slaughtneil didn’t panic and their years of championship battles stoop to them. Rogers added two points to steer them clear of any danger and secure the club’s 15th senior hurling title.
Another eagerly awaited instalment of the Slaughtneil-Dunloy series now lies ahead of Michael McShane's Emmet's side on the weekend of December 11/12 in the Ulster semi final.
SLAUGHTNEIL: Oisin O’Doherty; Sean Cassidy, Shane McGuigan; Gerald Bradley (0-1); Paul McNeill; Conor McKenna, Meehaul McGrath; Karl McKaigue (0-1), Chrissy McKaigue; Mark McGuigan, Cormac O’Doherty (0-7f), Brendan Rogers (0-3, 1f); Jerome McGuigan (0-1), Sé McGuigan (0-1), Brian Cassidy (1-3)
SUBS: Shea Cassidy for M McGuigan (51), Conor McAllister for Sean Cassidy (53), J Cassidy for Sé McGuigan (57), Proinsias Burke for C O’Doherty (INJ 57)
KEVIN LYNCH HC: Liam Hinphey; Niall McNicholl, Paddy Kelly, Jack Mullan; Richie Mullan (0-4F); Niall Ferris, Adrian Armstrong Darragh McGilligan; Thomas Brady, John Mullan (0-1); Sean Kelly, Odhran McKeever (0-1), Tiarnán McHugh (0-1); Shea McKeever; Conor Kelly (2-1)
SUBS: Padraig O’Kane (0-1) for A Armstrong (37), Eoghan Cassidy for T Brady (43), Mark Craig for S McKeever (43), Conor McKelvey for Jack Mullan (49)
YYELLOW CARD: D McGilligan (32), O McKeever (63)
REF: Owen Elliott (All Saints)
MAN OF THE MATCH
Brian Cassidy - Cassidy was the spark that ignited Slaughtneil on their way to glory. He fired home his early goal with the conviction of a man on form. As the Emmet’s began to link play through their half-forward line, his runs always made him an option and he added three points, while making scores for others.
Slaughtneil calmness - The early Cassidy goal set Slaughtneil on their way and their response to three early second-half Kevin Lynch’s points was another factor. But it was their failure to reach for the panic button when their lead was whittled down to four points late on that ensured Slaughtneil were left holding the Fr Collins Cup.
SCORE OF THE GAME
Kelly goal - With the water break approaching, Odhran McKeever’s pass unlocked the wing of Slaughtneil’s defence and Conor Kelly took off inside the cover. His run was direct and he fired an unstoppable past O’Doherty to make the score 1-14 to 1-7.
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