Slaughtneil and Coleraine to do it all again in Derry SFC
Derry Senior Football Club Championship: Robert Emmet's, Slaughtneil 0-15 Eoghan Rua, Coleraine 1-12
IN the end, a draw was just about right between the two best sides in Derry at Owenbeg last night. There were no tears of devastation following Richard Carey's injury-time equaliser for Coleraine – and nobody punching the air either.
Both sides had an even amount of purple patches with Coleraine racing clear 0-6 to 0-1 after 12 minutes. Like a seasoned champion, though, Slaughtneil steadied themselves and battered their rivals for the remainder of the first half.
Between the 13th and 30th minutes, Slaughtneil out-scored a punch-drunk Coleraine 0-7 to 0-1 to carry a one-point lead in at the interval [0-8 to 0-7].
Despite the impressive Gavin McWilliams opening the scoring for Coleraine at the start of the second half, it looked as though the defending champions had assumed control with Chrissy McKaigue leading the charge.
His inspirational 42nd minute score and fine assist for Shane McGuigan's point five minutes later put Slaughtneil 0-11 to 0-9 ahead.
But Coleraine, still trying to add to their first senior title back in 2010, showed great fighting spirit to come back at the defending champions.
Slaughtneil had no answer to the marauding Liam McGoldrick who grabbed the all-important goal in the 50th minute to put Coleraine a point ahead and added another brilliant score as the game edged into stoppage-time.
With Christopher Bradley converting his third free of the night in the 60th minute, Coleraine summoned one last roar to deny Slaughtneil a semi-final berth.
A quickly taken free from Sean Leo McGoldrick – who was generally blotted out by Chrissy McKaigue on the '40' – found the unmarked Carey who kept his composure to grab a draw.
Afterwards, Eoghan Rua boss Sean McGoldrick accentuated the positives.
“I suppose we can take a bit more belief out that game,” he said.
“Slaughtneil have been the top team for four or five years. I'm sure it's been hard for them and maybe they're starting to feel it between the hurling and football, they're maybe a bit tired.
“For us, it's given us a bit more self-belief and hopefully we can make it through after the replay.”
With both clubs involved in hurling finals next weekend – junior and senior, respectively – Wednesday or Thursday night was mooted for the replay date.
In the early stages of yesterday's end-to-end quarter-final, Coleraine didn't seem to miss Slaughtneil's posts.
After Shane McGuigan opened the scoring for Slaughtneil in less than a minute of play, Niall Holly (0-2) and back-to-back scores from Gavin McWilliams gave Coleraine a great platform and it looked as though the off-colour champions would be toppled.
Karl McKaigue had his hands full minding Coleraine full-forward Colm McGoldrick who won two frees off his man that were both converted.
Slaughtneil, without the injured Patsy Bradley, finally realised their title was on the line and their key players started to have more influence towards the end of the first half.
Padraig Cassidy started dictating midfield and stole forward to hit two points.
The ageless Francis McEldowney was never afraid to leave his sweeper's role to support the Slaughtneil attack, Conor McAllister and Chrissy McKaigue won a couple of Coleraine's kick-outs, while Shane McGuigan grabbed his second point from play and Christopher Bradley began finding his range.
Half-time didn't prove to be a momentum-breaker for Colin McEldowney's side with Chrissy McKaigue timing a couple of runs to perfection.
And just when it seemed they had Coleraine at arm's length, brothers Colm and Liam McGoldrick fashioned a much-needed goal with 10 minutes left on the clock.
McWilliams, who was in fine form last night, saw his effort come off the post – but Colm McGoldrick was first to the rebound and somehow ferried the ball to Liam who struck home from close range.
Before his son's vital goal, Sean McGoldrick feared the game was slipping from Coleraine's grasp.
“The way the game is played now if you go three points down with these mass defences, it's difficult but we were fortunate to get the goal which brought us right back into it.
“They replied immediately with a point [Jerome McGuigan] but once we got the goal we were back in it and it was always going to be tit for tat after that.”
Coleraine ‘keeper Ryan McGeough probably had grounds for complaint when he was adjudged to have over-carried and Christopher Bradley slotted over from close range to put Slaughtneil 0-14 to 1-10 ahead with four minutes remaining.
Bradley and Liam McGoldrick exchanged points before Carey – a 45th minute substitute – sealed a draw in the closing stages.
Slaughtneil didn't play with their usual zest last night - but they remain the team to beat in Derry. Coleraine, though, will feel they have an even better chance second time around.
Robert Emmett's, Slaughtneil: A McMullan; P McNeill, K McKaigue, C McAllister; F McEldowney, C McKaigue (0-1), K Feeney; J McGuigan (0-2), P Cassidy (0-2); R Bradley, B Cassidy (0-2), M McGrath; C Bradley (0-5, 0-3 frees), Se McGuigan, Shane McGuigan (0-3) Subs: B McEldowney for R Bradley, (53), C O'Doherty for B Cassidy (53), B McGuigan for Se McGuigan (59)
Yellow cards: K McKaigue (31), Shane McGuigan (40), M McGrath (45), J McGuigan (48)
Eoghan Rua, Coleraine: Ryan McGeough; C Lagan, Liam McGoldrick (1-1), B Daly; C Mullan, B McGoldrick, C Lenehan; N Holly (0-2), P Daly; R Mooney, SL McGoldrick, G McWilliams (0-4, 0-3 frees); M McTaggart, Colm McGoldrick (0-4, 0-3 frees), Ciaran McGoldrick Subs: R Carey (0-1) for M McTaggart (45)
Yellow cards: N Holly (41)
Black cards: Colm McGoldrick (61 not replaced)
Referee: B Cassidy (Bellaghy)
Derry SFC semi-final draw: Slaughtneil or Coleraine v Ballinascreen; Glen v Banagher (to be played Sunday October 7)