Busy Slaughtneil stay on glory trail with dominant win against Derrygonnelly
Slaughtneil 4-13 Derrygonnelly 1-04
Slaughtneil's astounding run of games continues, and on the evidence of this facile win over Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly Harps, are building up some head of steam as they prepare for an Ulster hurling final, and a serious tilt at the Ulster Football Championship thereafter.
The two-time Derry champions got off to the best possible start in the first minute. Padraig Kelly forced a turnover and fed Ronan Bradley who made straight for Dermot Feely's goal. Both Christopher Bradley and Se McGuigan had shots blocked before the third member of their full-forward line, Cormac O'Doherty, flashed the ball to the net.
Derrygonnelly lined up man for man to their cost, as Slaughtneil were able to stage overlaps and use the free man expertly, their sense of awareness of the man in support clearly sharpened by their hectic schedule of games.
There was a suspicion the 13 games their dual players have played in the last 11 weeks was beginning to catch up with them, when Derrygonnelly pegged back their lead during the first half.
On the seventh minute, impressive full-back Brendan Rogers broke up another attack and the ball was worked through O'Doherty for Bradley to finish emphatically to put Slaughtneil two goals up with the first two scores of the game.
Derrygonnelly hit back within a minute. A close-in free was awarded and while the Emmets defence fell asleep, Paul Ward took advantage and drilled a shot to the net for their opener.
From that point until the half-hour mark there was a tit-for-tat scoring sequence, Ward narrowing the gap to a single goal with half-time approaching by embarking on a mazy run with Paul McNeill in pursuit before cutting inside and rifling over.
A final Harps attack of the half yielded a long ball that was fielded by McGuigan, knocked on to O'Doherty, and planted to the net by Bradley to leave six in the margin at half-time.
The stats thereafter make horrible reading for Derrygonnelly, who could only manage one more score in the game. Slaughtneil's greater experience came to the fore and they looked like a team on their way to great achievements, while Derrygonnelly appeared for all the world happy with what they had managed a week before.
Given recent events, with prominent clubman Damian McGovern losing his life in an industrial accident, nobody would blame them for it, either.
Slaughtneil's polished performance was crowned by a collector's item goal by Karl McKaigue, with a rocket of a shot to the top corner on 53 minutes. And there was still time for the Derry men to add on another five points after that to apply a gloss to the performance.
Slaughtneil assistant manager John Joe Kearney revealed the extent of their preparations during the week, after the hurling wing of the club beat Ballycran to make it to the Ulster final, which will be hosted this Sunday in the Athletic Grounds.
"The footballers only got together on Wednesday night and had a warm-up and a bit of shooting practise on Friday night, that was basically it.
"Players will get together on Wednesday night, the hurlers won't be involved.
"But that's the way we are keeping it going," he explained.
In football, they have to face Monaghan champions Scotstown on November 1.
"They have won comfortably today, that will be a tough game," added Kearney.
SLAUGHTNEIL: A McMullan; Francis McEldowney, B Rogers, K McKaigue 1-0; P McNeill, C McKaigue 0-1, B McGuigan 0-1; Patsy Bradley 0-1, P Cassidy; P Kelly 0-1, Paul Bradley 0-3, 2f, R Bradley; C Bradley 2-3, 1f, S McGuigan 0-1, C O'Doherty 1-2. Subs: Fergal McEldowney for Kelly, C Cassidy for McGuigan (49m), P Kearney for Francis McEldowney
Yellow cards: Francis McEldowney (43m), C McKaigue (50m)
Black cards: R Bradley (34m, replaced by S Cassidy)
Red cards: 0
DERRYGONNELLY: D Feely; M Jones, T Daly, E McHugh; D Greene, S Burns, G McGinley; Shane McGullion, R Jones; D Cassidy 0-1, P Ward 1-1, G Jones; L Jones 0-2, 2f, Stephen McGullion, C Jones. Subs: M Cassidy for Shane McGullion, G McKenna for G Jones (39m), J McGurn for Stephen McGuillion, R Leonard for S Burns (53m), N Gilleece (57m)
Yellow cards: C Jones, (15 & 51m), G McKenna (43m), R Jones (48m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: C Jones (51m)
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)