Glen race into Derry SFC Final by beating Slaughtneil
Derry SFC semi-final: Watty Graham’s, Glen 3-7 Robert Emmet’s, Slaughtneil 1-11
THE coming force of Derry club football is one step from heaven after a thrilling victory over the previous kingpins.
Glen, Maghera deservedly denied Slaughtneil a return to the decider in a game of goals and goal chances, holding on for a famous victory in a finish that was more nerve-wracking than it needed to be.
Two goal-line clearances preserved the lead for the Watty Graham’s lads after the sheer pace and verve of this team had helped Cathal Mulholland, Jack Doherty, and Emmet Bradley all find the net, and Glen could even have grabbed more goals themselves.
Slaughtneil showed their spirit by levelling matters by the break, thanks to their brilliant goal from Ronan Bradley, but they could not cope with the rapidity and regularity of the Glen attacks.
Emmet Bradley’s goal in the first minute of the second half put the Maghera lads into a lead they were never to lose, even though both he and the outstanding Ciaran McFaul had to block goal-bound Slaughtneil shots.
Although there were errors a-plenty, often forced by pressure from opponents, this was a magnificent match, with both teams going at each other hammer and tongs.
It began fairly predictably, with scores from Slaughtneil’s county forwards Christopher Bradley and Shane McGuigan – but then the madness began.
When Karl McKaigue touched the ball on the ground, Glen wing-back Mulholland seized the opportunity, drilling the free straight and low to the net.
Slaughtneil responded with the next three scores, but their apparent control of this game was shaken again by another Glen goal – and it had been coming.
Slaughtneil’s stand-in keeper Sean O Casaide’s kick-outs had been impressive until one went straight to Jack Doherty, but he was fouled by Keelan Feeney before he could bear down on goal.
The number 10 did get clear in the 28th minute and, although his shot was parried out, he leapt to palm the rebound into the net. Astonishingly, that was Glen’s first score from play.
Yet when Glen full back Ryan Dougan powered forward to boom over a point it seemed that this game had swung significantly in their favour.
However, the Emmet’s responded in the style that had made them four-in-a-row county champs in the middle of this decade – and three-time Ulster winners.
Ronan Bradley rattled a superb shot high to the net and Cormac O’Doherty drew the sides level for the third time, 1-6 to 2-3 heading in for half-time.
Many teams have given in to the force of Slaughtneil’s will but Glen have quality and character.
Their other wing-back, Ethan Doherty, raced forward from the re-start and fired in a shot, which was beaten out by O Casaide, as was Emmet Bradley’s follow-up – but not his second attempt, fizzing to the net.
The switchback ride continued though, Glen losing Dougan to a black card for a hand trip on Shane McGuigan, who converted the resultant free and another to leave the minimum margin between the teams.
Patsy Bradley was on by that stage, and dumped McFaul with a trademark shoulder, but he got up again and, like Glen, just kept going.
Understandably, nerves got to Glen in the closing stages, corner-forward Alex Doherty’s second point from play, after 50 minutes, proving to be their last score – but it was enough.
Patsy Bradley and Meehaul McGrath combined to release Christopher Bradley on goal. He seemed to do everything right, drifting left past goalkeeper Callum Mullan Young before flicking a low shot – but that man McFaul somehow got his foot to the ball and kept it out.
Glen could have sealed it at the other end, but Brendan Rogers intercepted as they tried to find the net via a series of hand-passes.
Christopher Bradley ensured the proverbial ‘dangerous lead’ with a free on the hour – and then in the fourth minute of added time he picked out McGrath, but his drive was kept out by Emmet Bradley.
Glen would have been happy to win an awful game – they were delighted to edge this enthralling encounter.
Glen: C M Young; O McGill, R Dougan (0-1), O Hegarty; E Doherty, C Carville, C Mulholland (1-0 free); C McFaul, M Warnock; J Doherty (1-0), E Bradley (1-1), C McGuckian; P Gunning (0-2 frees), D Tallon (0-1 free), A Doherty (0-2).
Substitutes: C McDevitt for Warnock (8); C McCabe for Dougan (black card, 36); T Flanagan for Gunning (48); E Mulholland for McGuckian (52); C Bradley for Tallon (58); S O’Hara for A Doherty (59).
Slaughtneil: S O Casaide; K McKaigue, B Rogers, C McAllister; F McEldowney, M McGrath, K Feeney; P Cassidy, C McKaigue (0-1); B Cassidy, C Bradley (0-4, 0-2 frees), R Bradley (1-1); Shane McGuigan (0-4, 0-3 frees), Se McGuigan, C O’Doherty (0-1).
Substitutes: P Kearney for McAllister (black card, 17); P Bradley for R Bradley (36); J McGuigan for O’Doherty (53); C Cassidy for Shane McGuigan (black card, 58).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy).