Slaughtneil set up Bellaghy tie with win over Ballinascreen
REIGNING Derry and Ulster champions Slaughtneil kept their defence of the Oak Leaf title on track with a three-point win over Ballinascreen on Tuesday.
Slaughtneil will now play Bellaghy in the last four while last night’s semi-final draw also pitted Ballinderry with Coleraine.
Ballinascreen were second best for much of the game last night although it took a superb fetch in a crowded goalmouth in added time to end their resistance when Benny Heron dropped the ball in the square in added time from a 45.
In a low-scoring encounter where wides far outnumbered scores on both sides, Slaughtneil were slightly more accurate in front of the posts. Yet it was Ballinascreen that started the brighter with Heron taking a pass from Shane Mulgrew in the fifth minute and pointing.
Three minutes later Carlus McWilliams cut out a Paul Bradley ball from a free and raced through to slot over another point. However, that would be as good as it would get for Ballinascreen as the Emmet’s began to turn the screw, repeatedly turning over the ball in tackles and forcing Ballinascreen to shoot hurriedly from distance.
Chris Bradley in the ninth minute and Paul Bradley from a free five minutes later pointed to tie the scores at 0-2 each.
In the 24th minute Slaughtneil took the lead through a Paul Bradley free while Ronan Bradley was on target for a 0-4 to 0-2 at half-time Slaughtneil lead.
Both sides were wasteful in the 10 minutes after half-time but it was the holders who broke the deadlock with a fine Padraig Kelly point. In the 43rd minute corner-back Francis McEldowney came forward to take a pass from Sé McGuigan and open a four-point lead.
The final quarter produced just one point from a Shane Mulgrew free for Ballinascreen who then had two players dismissed. Phillip Bradley received a second yellow card and Anton Kelly got a straight red in added time.