It finished as expected in yesterday's second AIB Ulster Club SHC semi-final with Cushendall booking their place in the provincial final for a ninth time with a merited 3-11 to 2-8 victory over Kevin Lynch's from Dungiven.
Experience and better stick work helped the Ruairi Ogs to a win that, despite their better power all round, wasn't wrapped up until the final stages.
The Derry champions played as expected — strong in the challenge and with a never-say-die attitude but they didn't have the fire power to overcome the seasoned Cushendall who led 1-7 to 1-5 at the break thanks to a 30th minute goal from Shane McNaughton, when he latched on to a McManus lob, and a point by the same player.
One of the biggest cheers of the day was on 35 minutes when veteran Geoffrey McGonigle raced into the game and it was burly boy who was hauled down for a Dungiven penalty in the 41st minute.
Antrim's Ciarán Herron, now playing his club football and hurling with Dungiven, lashed the sliothar to the Cushendall net from the spot to leave the underdogs 2-6 to 1-8 up.
"That penalty goal didn't really worry me as there was plenty of time left and we are a very strong finishing team after all the hard work we have gone through in training," said the 'Dall captain Aidan Delargy.
The winners didn't take a lot of time to get back in front as within a minute Paddy McGill had the ball in the Dungiven net after 'keeper Brian Logan had batted the ball out. Donal McNaughton added a point and Shane McNaughton, from an Aidan Delargy centre hit the winners' third goal for a 3-9 to 2-6 lead.
Each side scored only two more points but it was Cushendall who finished much the stronger to book their spot in next Sunday's final against Ballygalget.
CUSHENDALL: F McAuley; A Graffin, O Scullion, S Delargy (0-4); M McCambridge, K McKeegan (0-1), K Elliott; D McKillop, D McNaughton (0-1); B Delargy, P McGill (1-2, 0-1 free), A Delargy (0-1); S McNaughton (2-2, 0-1 sideline cut), N McManus, C McCambridge. Subs: C Carson for McGill (56).
DUNGIVEN: B Lagan; M Craig, C McCloskey, E Farren; P Sweeney (0-1), L Hinphey, A McCloskey; C Herron (1-0, pen), K Hinphey (0-1); B Kelly, E McKeever, K Farren; F McGuigan (0-1), F Kelly (1-0), R O'Kane (0-3, all frees). Subs: G McGonigle (0-1, free) for K Farren (35), P McCloskey for O'Kane (37), R McCloskey for McKeever (55), P Kelly (0-1) for P McCloskey (57).
REFEREE: D Magee (Down)