Slaughtneil march into the semis without hitting top gear
Slaughtneil 0-12 Derrygonnelly 0-07
Slaughtneil are the club that just keep on giving. Hot on the heels of their recent history-making Ulster Club Hurling success, the 2014 provincial football champions eventually overcame an obdurate Derrygonnelly to progress to the Ulster Club semi-final with a five point victory at Celtic Park.
Free-taker Paul Bradley top-scored for Slaughtneil, who now meet Killyclogher in a fortnight's time.
With lessons clearly learned from last year's sound thrashing by the same opponents, Derrygonnelly adapted a much heavier manned defensive formation with, at times, no player in the Slaughtneil half.
The tactic worked well with the Fermanagh champions running in just a point off the pace at 0-6 to 0-5 down at the break. Indeed, scores from Leigh Jones and brothers Garvan and Ryan Jones edged Harps into a surprise 0-5 to 0-4 lead after 22 minutes as the Emmet's toiled in vain to pierce a tightly knitted Derrygonnelly blanket defence.
Only the driving thrusts forward from half-backs Brendan Rogers and Chrissy McKaigue provided the Derry men with any real space as countless attacks ended up all too lateral and eventually down dead ends.
A late Paul Bradley free and a collector's item from the outside of Patsy Bradley's right boot handed Micky Moran's men the narrowest of leads at half-time.
Bradley's heroics were short-lived, however, with the Derry talisman and Maurice Cassidy both black-carded within minutes of the restart.
Shane McGuigan - with a beauty with the left peg - and Leigh Jones traded points as both sides tussled for supremacy at Celtic Park.
Slaughtneil, with so many recent Championship games in both codes perhaps catching up with their legs, struggled to rediscover the intensity that blew away Loup in the county final at the same venue just three weeks ago.
However, the dismissal of Paul Ward for a second yellow card in the 44th minute proved fatal for Derrygonnelly as Slaughtneil hit five of the last six points to run out eventual winners.
Paul Bradley notched up his fifth of the day, before Cormac O'Doherty, Shane McGuigan, Karl McKaigue and Barry McGuigan all split the posts to put a gloss on what was a below-par performance from the favourites.
A much stiffer proposition against the Tyrone champions awaits them in a fortnight.
Slaughtneil: McMullan, McEldowney, Rogers, K McKaigue, McNeill, C McKaigue, Feeney, Patsy Bradley, Cassidy, Shane McGuigan, Paul Bradley, McGrath, Christopher Bradley, Se McGuigan, O'Doherty
Subs: P McGuigan for P Bradley (BC 32), B McGuigan for P McGuigan (52), Ronan Bradley for McGrath (52).
Derrygonnelly: Feely, Shane McGullion, Burns, Greene, Gallagher, M Jones, McGinley, R Jones, G Jones, M Cassidy, K Cassidy, D Cassidy, Ward, Stephen McGullion, L Jones.
Subs: Lee Jones for M Cassidy (BC 34), McGurn for K Cassidy (43), Daly for S McGullion (43), K Cassidy for N Gallagher (62)
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)