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Cushendall and Slaughtneil fire warning shots in battle for titles

By John Campbell

Two of Ulster's leading hurling clubs have laid down a firm marker that they are fiercely committed to retaining their respective county championship titles.

Antrim champions Cushendall fired out a defiant message that any lingering after-effects from their All-Ireland club final defeat by Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) earlier this year have long since disappeared by the confident manner in which they disposed of Creggan Kickhams by 6-29 to 1-10 to remain on course for back-to-back county titles.

And reigning Derry champions Slaughtneil emphasised that they will be difficult to separate from their crown by the efficient manner in which they disposed of Swatragh by 1-29 to 0-10 in yesterday's semi-final.

Paddy Magill, Andrew Delargy and Sean McAfee led the Cushendall goal blitz while Ryan Delargy was to the fore in compiling points. However, Loughgiel also went on a scoring spree against St Gall's winning by 4-24 to 1-7 with Benny McCarry (2), Mark McFadden and Dominic McKinley grabbing their goals.

Slaughtneil, meanwhile, can now prepare for a Derry final showdown with Banagher and will certainly take comfort from their accomplished performance against a Swatragh side that never found their rhythm.

Gerard Bradley scored the only goal of the game while Chrissy McKaigue and Cormac O'Doherty were two of the club's numerous dual players who shared in the lavish points-scoring spree.

In the other Derry semi-final, Shane Farren was the Banagher hero by landing ten points in a dynamic display of quality finishing. Eire Og won the Tyrone senior hurling championship title by beating Eoghan Ruadh in the final by 3-14 to 2-14.

With the sides deadlocked at 1-12 each in the second half, Sean Og Brogan scored a crucial goal which injected new life into his side and helped to carry them over the line.

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