T MACKLE MHC Final - Slaughtneil 2-16 Ballinascreen 0-8
Slaughtneil cruised to their fifth minor title in six years with a controlled performance to see off Ballinascreen at a rain swept Owenbeg on Saturday afternoon. It also completed the minor football and hurling double, their first since 1999 and helps keep this amazing run of success going.
|Proinsias Burke with the cup|
(Pic Mark Doherty)
Ballinascreen were out of the blocks very quickly with a point from corner forward Aaron Bradley inside a minute. Slaughtneil captain Proinsias Burke levelled soon after from the first of his six frees. Conditions were dreadful with driving rain making footing and handling very difficult meaning both management teams having to patrol the Owenbeg pitch with towels to keep the sticks dry.
Ballinascreen dominated the early stages but Mark Glass was commanding at full back as he repelled a few dangerous 'Screen attacks. At the other end Liam Cassidy spurned a goal chance after a dinking run. Slaughteil were wasteful on many occasions but the main thing was they were creating them.
Slaughtneil manager Francie Burke's messages from the line were clear, he was urging this forwards to be one the move and to hug the sidelines and use the open spaces of Owenbeg to good effect. Brian Cassidy and Shane McGuigan interchanging roles between wing forward and the edge of the square and Ballinascreen had no sweeper in place to fill that gap.
Like in the semi-final win over the Lynch's this tactic paid dividends. When the first goal came it was a long Jerome McGuigan ball that was flicked to the net by Shane McGuigan setting the Emmet's on their way. Shane McGuigan added two points and brilliant catch and run by Conor McAllister won a free which Burke tapped over and Slaughtneil were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead.
Things got even better for the Emmet's with Brian Cassidy hitting a brilliant goal from a narrow angle showing great skill after winning possession from a long delivery from Sean O'Doherty. Liam Cassidy could have had a third goal moments later but for a terrific save from Matthew Doyle, the 'Screen goalkeeper was excellent throughout and was assured in his handling and stickwork despite tricky conditions.
O'Doherty scored the first point of the second half for Slaughtneil and they had a goal chance moments later Brian Cassidy having his shot blocked by 'keeper Doyle, Cassidy was alert to the rebound but was off target.
This appeared to spark 'Screen into life with points from Eamon Donnelly, lively corner forwards Marty and Aaron Bradley. Michael Kennedy was in for a goal chance but it was blocked by a combination of Slaughtneil defenders and the same player had a goal disallowed in the first half.
From 'Screen's point of view their mini revival didn't produce enough scores to break the Slaughtneil stranglehold on the game. They were going to need goal and with Slaughtneil being wasteful with quite a few chances it could have changed the complexion of the game.
Then came a six minute spell of Slaughteil dominance which put them well and truly in the driving seat. Three points from Shane McGuigan, once apiece from Brian Cassidy and wing back Sean Cassidy in quick succession opened up a 2-11 to 0-6 lead with over fifteen minutes still to play.
Three further frees from the flawless Burke and fine effort by Brian Cassidy out on the wing rounded off the scoring and ensured it was Slaughtneil who go on to face Down champions Ballygalget in the Ulster Championship.
After the game Derry Treasurer Pat Brennan presented the Cup to Slaughteil captain Proinsias Burke.
Slaughtneil: Francis McEldowney, Ciaran McGuigan, Mark Glass, Keelan Feeney, Jerome McGuigan, Ruairi McCartney, Sean Cassidy (0-1), Proinsias Burke (0-6 frees), Conor McAllister, Brian Cassidy (1-3), Conan Hunter, Sean O'Doherty (0-1), Liam Cassidy, Shane McGuigan (1-5), James McCloskey.
Ballinascreen: Matthew Doyle, Jason Wilson, Peter Lagan, Caoilte McAlinden, Sean Brunton, Eoghan Gilmore, Ciaran McBride, Ronan Murphy, Eamon Donnelly (0-5, four frees), Ruairi McWilliams, Anton Scullion, Michael Kennedy, Martin Bradley (0-1), Paul McCrystal, Aaron Bradley (0-2).
Referee: Gearoid O'Neill (Banagher)