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Sinéad Mellon proves to be not so secret weapon as she helps fire Slaughtneil to Ulster title joy over Loughgiel


Champions: Slaughtneil show off the trophy

Champions: Slaughtneil show off the trophy

Star player: Sinead Mellon was the go-to for Ulster champions Slaughtneil. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Star player: Sinead Mellon was the go-to for Ulster champions Slaughtneil. Credit: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy


Champions: Slaughtneil show off the trophy

There was no master-plan that produced a Player of the Match performance from Sinéad Mellon to take Slaughtneil to a fifth successive Ulster senior club title claimed coach Micky Glover.

Mellon lasted just half an hour in last week’s 0-9 each draw with Loughgiel in Ballymena.

“Sinéad had to come off in Ballymena at half-time with a head injury and had to follow the Return to Play Protocol. So she missed training during the week and it was only late on Thursday evening that she was passed fit to play in the replay," revealed Glover.

“Obviously we didn’t have time to work on anything with her, but when the rest of the girls saw that she was showing for ball out of defence and then able to win that ball and turn her player. Well, they just kept feeding her.”

Mellon was the go-to player from the start winning the first ball and heading straight for the Loughgiel goals. She scored, but referee Gavin Donegan had already blown for a free which Tina Bradley converted.

Mellon though scored the second point after Christine Laverty and Róisín McCormick from a free had put the Antrim champions ahead for the only time.

She then won another free and Bradley again converted and Slaughtneil were on their way with Mellon a constant thorn in the side of the Loughgiel defence.

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In the second half with the wind behind Slaughtneil Mellon reverted to a regular full-forward role and brought her personal total to four points by the end of the game.

She was a shoo-in for Player of the Match, although Tina Bradley and Aoife Ní Chaiside pushed her hard while the work ethic of the whole team left them very difficult to break down.

It was Bradley’s goal in the 22nd minute that put Slaughtneil in the driving seat. She was twice blocked down in an effort for a point, but re-acted quickest the second time, side-stepped the cover and got a clear run on goal.

That score put Slaughtneil in at the break with a lead of 1-3 to 0-4 having played against the breeze. With the elements behind them for the second half they powered on for a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage at the second water-break.

So what changed from the drawn game?

Glover admitted that they had viewed last week’s match coverage and decided to change the player-on-player match-ups at the back.

“We felt Caitrin Dobbin got away with too much in Ballymena. So Céat McEldowney was to pick her up for the replay. Dobbin didn’t get a score and we also closed out Racquel Murphy who scored two points in the drawn game and had a goal chance.

“We decided our work-rate wasn’t good enough. We changed small things and we got the right response from the girls. Sinéad’s performance was a bonus, but appreciated.”

Celebrations were put on hold however with the newly-crowned Ulster champions meeting the Leinster winners in this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-final. Another huge challenge for Glover and the team, but the two games against Loughgiel will have helped preparations.

SLAUGHTNEIL: J Bradley; O McNeill, L Dougan joint-capt, E McGrath; B McAllister, C Ní Mhianáin, C McGrath; S Graham, Céat McEldowney; C Mulholland 0-1, T Bradley joint-capt 1-6 (4f), A Ní Chaiside; O Rafferty, S Mellon 0-4, T Mellon 0-1.

Subs: Carla McEldowney for C Mulholland (59), C Kearney for O Rafferty (59), C Burns for C Ní Mhianáin (62).

LOUGHGIEL: M Coyle; C Campbell, K Lynn, K McKillop; A Boyle, L McNaughton, S Devlin; M Connolly capt., E McFadden; Christine Laverty 0-2, R McCormick 0-6(f), E McMullan; R Murphy, C Dobbin, C McKillop.

Subs: A Connolly for R Murphy (48), A Lynn for C McKillop (HT), Ciara Laverty for C Dobbin (56), O Laverty for E McMullan (56).

Referee: G Donegan (Dublin)

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