Slaughtneil can keep hat-trick in their sights with Lavey win
M&L Contracts Derry Senior Football Championship
Reigning champions Slaughtneil take on Lavey tonight in an eagerly-awaited clash in the M&L Contracts Derry Senior Football Championship at Owenbeg (7.30pm).
Last year, Lavey’s impressive victory over the champions came to nothing as Slaughtneil went the qualifier route to retain their title.
Now they are aiming to join the three in-a-row club alongside Bellaghy and Ballinderry. Lavey must go back to 1993 for their last county title and now sons of that team are carrying their great championship tradition forward.
They have a good record over Slaughtneil and in the league’s early rounds they beat the Emmett’s by 2-5 to 0-9 so they will not have any inferiority complex going into this game.
Slaughtneil’s league from improved after a slow start and there is little doubt that their experienced management duo of Mickey Moran and John Joe Kearney would have been planning every move to ensure they would have their strongest 15 available for the championship.
They took the title last year despite losing Paudie McGuigan and Gerald Bradley to cruciate ligament injuries.
Midfielder McGuigan has seen some action this year and Patsy Bradley is also back after surgery on a foot.
Gerald Bradley is making progress but maybe not enough to get a starting place.
Having won the minor title last year, the holders have a good squad of young players lining up for places. They have given some of them a taste of senior football during the league.
Lavey have had the more settled team this year and they have some very good players like Cailean O’Boyle, Niall Toner, Anthony McGurk, Ryan Farren, Chrissy Henry and the experienced Shane Lagan.
Despite chopping and changing their team from match to match, Slaughtneil were still there at the business end of the league so it will be this game before we see them at full strength and possibly at their best.
A lot could depend on how far Patsy Bradley their midfield general has come on from his foot surgery.
The big 31-year-old former Derry star has been their inspiration in many a game and, with Paudie McGuigan alongside him, Lavey will face a formidable midfield pairing.
Teenager Shane McGuigan is a real star in the making and has been used sparingly during the league.
Christopher Bradley is a real quality player but still a lot could depend on tried and vastly experienced players like Barry McGuigan, Francis McEldowney, Paul Bradley and the two big men at midfield.
The Lavey club will be hurting after the rout of their hurlers by the Emmett’s last weekend and wily manager Jude Donnelly will be invoking the spirit and determination that took them to victory last year.
That said it will take a huge performance from Lavey to dethrone the reigning champions.