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Another day may be needed for Emmet's and Shamrocks

  Slaughtneil’s Patsy Bradley (left) and Ballinderry’s Kevin McGuckin are likely to do battle at midfield in tomorrow’s Derry SFC semi-final. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus Mullan

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M&L Contracts Derry Senior Football Championship semi-final: Robert Emmet’s, Slaughtneil v Ballinderry Shamrocks (tomorrow, Owenbeg, 3.45pm)

THIS game will surely attract the biggest championship crowd of the season to Owenbeg, with holders Slaughtneil taking on the side they beat with a late Gerald Bradley goal in the 2014 decider.

Ballinderry were champions in 2011, 2012 and 2013, while Slaughtneil retaining the John McLaughlin Cup last year with a narrow final win over Coleraine.

For much of their opening game with Bellaghy the Shamrocks looked as if they might bow out but they eventually pulled through 1-12 to 0-12 to set up a last eight encounter with Banagher.

Banagher spurned two early goal chances and paid the price with five superb points from Ryan Bell and outstanding displays from Conleith Gilligan and Kevin McGuckin driving them to a 1-14 to 1-7 victory.

At one stage Slaughtneil looked to be on the verge of surrendering their title against Lavey, six-points adrift at half-time, but they took control from an early stage in the second period and pushed on for victory before a very comfortable quarterfinal win over Newbridge.

Martin McKinless is back at the helm for Ballinderry and he has the championship pedigree and knowhow when it comes to winning titles.

Another win would give him six successes in six finals.

The John Joe Kearney/Mickey Moran combination has proved hugely successful for Slaughtneil and the enticing lure of a three-ina-row will intensify their desire for victory.

Kevin McGuckin lorded midfield against Banagher but he will now come up against a player of equal experience and class in Patsy Bradley. Defensively Slaughtneil will look to Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers and Karl McKaigue to take on the scoring threat of Ryan Bell, Raymond Wilkinson, Daniel McKinless and Conleith Gilligan.

Christopher Bradley, Se McGuigan, Cormac O’Doherty, Shane McGuigan will pose a huge threat to the Ballinderry defence, backboned by Gareth McKinless, Ryan Scott, Michael McIver and Declan Bell.

No matter what way you look at this game it has thriller written all over it, with both sides putting forward strong cases for being cast in the role of favourite to reach the decider.

Indeed there could well be another chapter to be written in this story.

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