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Derry champs Slaughtneil out to seize second chance

By John Campbell

Derry and Ulster club football champions Slaughtneil came within a whisker of surrendering both their titles last Sunday.

It took a point from a 45-metre free by Paul Bradley in the dying seconds of extra-time in their absorbing Derry championship tie against O'Donovan Rossa (Magherafelt) to earn the dual title holders a 1-16 to 0-19 draw, Bradley's cousin Ronan having earlier slid home the only goal of the game.

Slaughtneil, who suffered a first-round defeat at the hands of Lavey prior to last weekend's scare, now go into tonight's replay at Owenbeg (8.00pm) hoping to see a revival in their fortunes.

In their loss to Lavey, Slaughtneil conceded three goals and had been keen to shore up such defensive leaks against Rossa.

But the concession of 19 points and the fact that they left it so late to snatch a draw has served to emphasise just how difficult retaining their titles will be.

"The Derry club championship has for some time been recognised as one of the most demanding and competitive in Ulster because several teams are always capable of winning it," pointed out assistant manager John Joe Kearney.

"This serves to make it interesting and is one of the reasons why such big crowds attend games. We know that retaining our title is going to be difficult and we are only focused on this replay against O'Donovan Rossa."

Kearney's point is well made. With teams such as Ballinderry, Kilrea and Lavey already through to the quarter-finals, Slaughtneil know they face a rocky road if they are to retain their trophy.

"It was a great game of football on Sunday," reflected Kearney. "Fortunately, we have everyone available again. Rossa will feel they should have won the game in normal time but we hit the post in extra-time and maybe a draw was a fair result at the end of the day."

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