No hint of an upset as it's Slaughtneil at a canter
Ulster SHC Semi-final
There were no real surprises at a picturesque Pairc Esler where Derry's Slaughtneil led from start to finish to defeat Armagh champions Middletown by 10 points.
Cormac O'Doherty top scored for the Emmets with eight points while first half goals from Cormac McKenna and the returning Gerald Bradley proved crucial.
Little separated these two sides with the scoreboard reading 0-3 apiece after a first 15 minutes that lacked any real fluency or creativity.
It would be a Gerald Bradley goal in the 22nd minute that put daylight between the two combatants handing Slaughtneil a 1-6 to 0-3 lead. Mark McGuigan was the architect of the goal, bursting forward and attracting two defenders before delivering the major on a plate to the unmarked Bradley.
As half-time approached Cormac McKenna appeared to have wrapped things up for the Derry men when his goal made it 2-9 to 0-5.
Middletown chiselled away at the Slaughtneil advantage with their free-taking and, when impact sub Shaun Toal scored an early second half goal, it left Na Fianna just 2-10 to 1-8 in arrears.
However, Slaughtneil never really looked in any serious danger and finished strongly; hitting the last four scores of the contest, with Oisin O'Doherty's 60th minute penalty confirming victory.
Manager Michael McShane believes his side will go into this year's Ulster final as underdogs when they meet Loughgiel in a fortnight's time.
"They've dominated Antrim and Ulster in recent years and they're back with a steely determination. I watched the Antrim final against Cushendall and they were very hungry. It's going to be a massive challenge for us."
Dual club Slaughtneil have the county football final before that Ulster final and McShane admits he'll be going to Celtic Park next weekend with the rosary beads in the back pocket.
"Hopefully we'll get the win (over Loup) and that keeps the momentum running. We're back in an Ulster final and that's where we want to be after the disappointment of last year."
Slaughtneil scorers: Cormac O'Doherty 0-8 (0-5f), Gerald Bradley 1-1, Cormac McKenna 1-1, Brendan Rogers 0-3, Oisin O'Doherty 0-1, Mark McGuigan 0-1, Se McGuigan 0-1
Middletown scorers: Dean Gaffney 0-4 (0-3f), Nathan Curry 0-45f, Shaun Toal 1-0, Paddy McBride 0-1, Ryan Gaffney 0-1, Cahal Carville 0-1, Ryan Gaffney 0-1f.
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim).