Ulster Club Hurling semi-final: Swatragh 1-6 Portaferry 0-23
Portaferry set up an Ulster final clash against All-Ireland champions Loughgiel with a comfortable win over 14-man Swatragh at Casement Park.
The Down men, boosted by 11 points from Paul Braniff, had 14 points to spare over Ulster club debutants Swatragh who went down to 14 men in the 43rd minute when Ruairi Convery received a straight red card.
However Portaferry were already well in control and will now contest their first Ulster final since 2002.
John Convery opened the scoring for Portaferry after six minutes of scrappy hurling.
It settled the Down champions who added a further seven points without reply to take a 0-8 to nil lead after 19 minutes, with Braniff’s 10th minute effort the pick of the bunch.
Swatragh struggled with the pace of the game in their first foray into the provincial championship and at times looked for a bit too much time on the ball, however they got off the mark through Convery in the 21st minute and the same player then added a free to cut the gap to six points.
Portaferry added the next four points, however, shared between Stephen Murray and Braniff.
The Derry men had a chance to pull themselves back into the game from the penalty spot after a foul on Sean McNicholl, but Michael Kirkpatrick’s effort was well saved by Karol Keating to keep a 10-advantage going into the break.
Swatragh cut the gap to seven just after the restart when Convery superbly finished to the net but five unanswered scores, four from the stick of the excellent Braniff, eased Portaferry into the safety zone and that big showdown against Loughgiel, who were victorious against Middletown.
Swatragh: C O’Kane; N O’Doherty, S McFerran, P O’Kane; S Bradley, M Kirkpatrick, C Quinn; M O’Hagan, C McQuillan; D McGuckin, S McQuillan (0-1), M Conway; C Convery (0-2f), M McKenna, R Convery (1-2, 1f). Subs: S McNicholl for S McQuillan, M Kirkpatrick (0-1) for P O’Kane, T McCloy for D McGuckin, D McAlary for M McKenna, K McKeague for M Conway
Portaferry: K Keating; C O’Prey (0-1f), C O’Neill, N White; M Conlon, C Coulter, Barry Coleman; A Savage, F Rodgers; A O’Prey (0-1), J Convery (0-2), S Murray (0-2); C Mageean (0-3), P Braniff (0-11, 7f), E Sands (0-2). Subs: J Trainor for N White, N Kelly for E Sands, Brendan Coleman (0-1f) for F Rodgers, G Coffey for C O’Neill
Referee: O Elliott (Antrim).