Slaughtneil duo net lead roles as Derry retain status
It was a case of better late than never for Derry boss Colm McGurk when he finally enticed seven of the all-conquering Slaughtneil side into his line-up for the Division 2B Allianz Hurling League relegation shoot-out against Armagh at Ballyshannon.
And how the representatives from the Derry and Ulster champions responded by helping to mastermind an emphatic 2-22 to 0-9 victory that sees the Oak Leaf men retain their Division 2 status and Armagh return to Division Three next year.
When the sides met earlier in the league it was the Orchard County who triumphed.
However there was never any chance of them repeating that feat in this latest encounter, certainly not after they lost Nathan Curry to a red card in only the second quarter and shot 13 wides, several from frees, before the half-way stage had even been reached.
Derry led by 1-9 to 0-5 at the break and when Se McGuigan complemented Meehaul McGrath's goal with one of his own, the Slaughtneil influence was profound.
David Carvill and Ryan Gaffney did what they could to muster Armagh scores but the side as a whole had no answer to the pace and skill of a reinvigorated Derry side.
In his first season in charge, Meath man Paddy Kelly has had his hands full in striving to trigger progress for Armagh but now he must turn his attention to the forthcoming Christy Ring Cup for solace.
Meanwhile, Cuala claimed the All-Ireland senior club title by beating Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) in the replayed final at O'Moore Park, Portaloise.
Dublin champions Cuala fired over four late points from Mark Schutte (2), Con O'Callaghan and David Tracey to claim the crown after Schutte and Nicky Kenny had landed their goals before David Breen hit the net for Na Piarsaigh. Wexford turned on the style to beat All-Ireland champions Galway in a rip-roaring Allianz League quarter-final by 1-23 to 0-23 and will now meet their near neighbours and great rivals Kilkenny in next weekend's semi-finals.
In the Division Two final Carlow beat Westmeath by 2-19 to 2-11 with James Doyle and Marty Kavanagh (penalty) landing the winners' goals while Darragh Clinton and Derek McNicholas rattled the Carlow net.