Banagher pulled off a stunning victory over reigning champions Kevin Lynch’s in the Derry senior hurling championship semi-final when a goal deep in the bowels of injury-time gave them a 1-9 to 0-10 victory.
In a game of high drama, Banagher had missed a penalty just minutes earlier but their tenacity was rewarded in a grandstand finish that saw them book their place against Swatragh in the decider.
Oisin McCluskey was immense at midfield for Banagher while Sean McCullagh made a huge contribution throughout.
They trailed by 0-8 to 0-6 and then again at 0-10 to 0-8 but never lost the will to battle.
And it was fitting that Shane Farren, who had been superb throughout, should have fired home the goal that proved their passport into the decider.
Mark Craig was among the Dungiven side’s most impressive players and his three points underpinned their efforts but they were unable to match Banagher’s resolve and never say die spirit in the closing stages.
Meanwhile, Ruairi Convery certainly underlined his reputation as one of Ulster hurling’s most potent hot shots when he chalked up an impressive 1-12 as his club Swatragh powered their way into the Derry senior hurling championship final at the expense of Lavey at Ballinascreen yesterday.
Convery’s marksmanship from all angles and distances was central to his team’s 1-16 to 1-13 victory and once again highlighted his ability to make territorial advantage count.
It was Swatragh’s penchant for winning second-phase possession that stood them in good stead although Lavey stayed in touch for the greater part of the contest.
They were handicapped, though, when Sam Dodds was shown a red card in the second half which allowed Swatragh to push on and make their numerical advantage count in the final quarter.
Paddy Henry, whose scoring exploits with Derry earned him headlines earlier in the year, had kept Lavey afloat by scoring 1-5 even though he had been hampered to some extent by an injury sustained in the early stages of the game. But with Conor Quinn and Michael Warnock impressive in the Swatragh rearguard, the Lavey attack as a unit never really revealed the level of cohesion of which it is capable.
In contrast, Convery’s majestic scoring display cemented Swatragh’s belief and allowed them to finish the contest on a high note.
When Monaghan champions Latton were forced to embark on their championship mission against Truagh without long-serving midfield ace Eoin Lennon, it was thought that their prospects of back-to-back titles had been diminished.
But a spirited display saw them just edge through to the next round on a 1-9 to 1-8 score line.
Ballybay meanwhile had a straightforward passage against Monaghan Harps winning by 1-12 to 0-5.