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Slaughtneil history men much too strong for Clontibret

Slaughtneil 1-9 Clontibret 0-7

By Cahair O'Kane

An utterly dominant performance from Slaughtneil sent them into their historic first Ulster Club SFC final as they came past a disappointing Clontibret challenge.

The Derry champions were in control for the full hour in terms of possession and territory, but it wasn't until late on that they were able to put the seal on it on the scoreboard.

They had led by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break.

Moments after the restart, Christopher Bradley fired home a superb goal off his left foot after a patient build-up to open a match-winning lead.

Clontibret kept themselves in touch by virtue of Conor McManus' frees, hitting five and a further score from play.

But he was well marshalled by Karl McKaigue.

The Monaghan side's problems were summed up the fact that Fergal Greenan's injury-time consolation was their first score from another source.

Slaughtneil, without the injured Brendan Rogers and fellow defender Peadar Kearney, who set off to New Zealand for a month at the start of the week, dominated almost all of the opening 30 minutes, but struggled to work the scores to reflect their possession.

The Derry champions had much the better of the first half but led by just two at the interval.

That was despite the attacking excellence of Padraig Cassidy, who more than merited his inclusion ahead of Sé McGuigan.

He caused real problems for Colum Greenan as he drifted all across the attack and linked the play.

Christopher Bradley also managed to escape the clutches of Dessie Mone to point twice in the opening half.

Slaughtneil were 0-3 to 0-0 to the good after 10 minutes thanks to scores from Ronan Bradley, Paul Bradley and Cormac O'Doherty.

Conor McManus finally broke Clontibret's duck with a 13th minute free.

Two further efforts from dead balls were all they had to show for their first half efforts.

They might have had a goal right on the stroke of half-time but when influential sub Fergal Mone squared for Ryan McGuigan to palm goalwards, Antoin McMullan brilliantly covered across his goal to stop the effort.

Referee Padraig Hughes played an advantage on it and it was brought back for a foul by Karl McKaigue, which McManus tapped over to make the half-time score 0-5 to 0-3 for the Derry men.

The second half was just as one-sided, with Patsy Bradley imperious not just at midfield, but defensively as well.

Mickey Moran's team weaved a composed, patient move through the yellow shirts.

With the surge provided by Francis McEldowney, the chance opened up for Christopher Bradley. With 32 minutes on the clock, he rattled the bottom corner with a great finish.

McManus replied with a superb score from play and a free which helped them back into it, reducing the gap to just the goal at 1-6 to 0-6.

In the end, Paul Bradley settled it with his side's last three scores to cap a fine performance from him, building on the display which terrorised Cavan Gaels in the first half of the previous round's match.

Clontibret lost sub JP Mone to a black card and Paul McGuigan was lucky that his yellow card wasn't red after scything down Barry McGuigan in the dying moments of the encounter.

Slaughtneil held on far more comfortably than they could have imagined to seal a date with Omagh in two weeks' time.

Slaughtneil: A McMullan; C Cassidy, C McKaigue, K McKaigue; F McEldowney, B McGuigan, G Bradley; Patsy Bradley, P McGuigan; P Kelly, C Bradley (1-1), R Bradley (0-1); C O'Doherty (0-1), Paul Bradley (0-6, 0-3f), P Cassidy. Subs: P McNeill for P McGuigan (41)

Clontibret: C Fadian; D Mooney, C Greenan, D Savage; D Mone, C Boyle, P McGuigan; V Corey, E Greenan; M Corey, C McManus (0-6, 0-5f), A Curran; C Lavelle, B Greenan, R McGuigan. Subs: F Mone for A Curran (20), JP Mone for Lavelle (38), P Boyle for Savage (38), L Savage for JP Mone (black card, 54), F Greenan (0-1) for E Greenan (50).

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).

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