Derry SFC final: Slaughtneil seal historic double-double success
M&L Contracts Derry SFC final: Robert Emmet's Slaughtneil 1-7 Eoghan Rua, Coleraine 0-9
CHRISTOPHER Bradley launched the ball into orbit with a delighted swing of his right boot after the final whistle ended a slow-burner of a Derry final in Slaughtneil’s favour yesterday.
It wasn’t pretty at times – particularly in the first half – but the Emmet’s were the better side on the day and deserved their win against a battling Coleraine outfit that came back from six points down midway through the second half and almost forced a replay.
The victory completed an historic double-double of football and hurling titles for Slaughtneil over the last two seasons – actually a double and a treble because their camogs also won county honours yesterday.
They didn’t win them at Celtic Park though and that is perhaps something the Derry County Board could have addressed and Slaughtneil captain Francis McEldowney referred to the club’s punishing fixture schedule after he accepted the John McLaughlin Cup.
“It’s my third and I’d say it’s the best yet,” he said.
“I’m real proud of the boys and proud of the management.
“We were never going to get it handy against Coleraine. We’ve played them enough times in the championship to realise you don’t take them lightly – they’ve knocked us out a couple of times.
“It has been a nightmare for us. We have a lot of dual players and they are out week after week so our training is very badly interrupted, but thankfully we have two management teams who work together and keep the boys fresh.
“We had a camogie championship final and all our supporters have had to pay into two games today and I don’t think that’s right.
“The powers that be could have come to some sort of arrangement and had a double-header – it nearly feels like they’re punishing clubs.
“It has been a massive two years and it goes to show the work that goes on around the club – you don’t get a good football team, a good hurling team and a good camogie team by chance.”
Meanwhile, Coleraine manager Sean McGoldrick couldn’t have expected more effort from his players who looked out-gunned at times, but responded well after Se McGuigan’s goal and forced the match to the wire.
“The boys came back really well after the goal but unfortunately we just ran out of time,” he said.
“The players left nothing on the field, they gave it everything and with a wee bit of luck they might have got the draw.
“It’s a great achievement for Slaughtneil – the hurling and the football – they should benefit from that game and I hope from a Derry point of view that they go on to win Ulster.”
Getting over the line yesterday will have done Slaughtneil a power of good and they’ll face the Fermanagh champions (Derrygonnelly or Roslea) brim full of confidence on October 17
They mounted the first attack in yesterday’s final and Francis McEldowney briefly had a sniff of goal but he was quickly closed down by the Coleraine defence.
The Eoghan Rua side defended in numbers with Liam McGoldrick and Ciaran Mullan taking man-marking roles and the rest – bar Colm McGoldrick at half-forward and Gavan McWilliams and occasionally Ciaran McGoldrick up front - working back and closing down space.
Slaughtneil were kicking into a stiff breeze and played a patient game, but they were turned over six times in the opening 10 minutes. Coleraine’s forwards built on the hard work in their own half when Colm McGoldrick latched on to Steven Coyles’ pass and split the posts confidently with his left boot to open the scoring after five minutes.
Five more minutes had elapsed before Ronan Bradley capitalised on Patsy Bradley’s industry to equalise and then Paul Bradley edged the Emmet’s ahead with a free after Niall Holly had taken down Padraig Cassidy.
Coleraine won the kick-out and Sean Leo McGoldrick embarked on a trademark solo run. But Chrissy McKaigue picked his pocket and Slaughtneil counterattacked. Again Cassidy was fouled and again Paul Bradley knocked over the free.
The defending champions led by two, but Coleraine are a determined outfit and they were soon back on terms. Barry McGoldrick fired over a free after Patsy Bradley fouled Holly and then Garvan McWilliams levelled it.
Slaughtneil came close to landing a decisive blow when McEldowney joined the attack again. This time he got his shot away and it beat Ryan McGeough but cannoned off the crossbar.
Se McGuigan kept it alive and Slaughtneil won another free and again Paul Bradley converted to give his side the lead which they held at the break.
A one-point lead having played into the wind was the least they deserved because they had looked the better side for much of a poor half of football that was choked by conservative tactics with both sides concentrating on containing the other.
The game did open up in the second half and Slaughtneil missed three chances to extend their lead when Chrissy McKaigue, Christopher Bradley and Se McGuigan all shot wide. Seven minutes had gone by before Paul Bradley won himself a free and he sent the ball high into the Derry air. The breeze off the Foyle did the rest and Slaughtneil led 0-5 to 0-3.
Three minutes later he took another free but this time his effort dropped short. The Coleraine defence waited for it, but Se McGuigan didn’t and he nipped in to punch it into the net.
A Christopher Bradley point followed and, at 1-6 to 0-3 down with 17 minutes left, Coleraine looked a beaten team.
But they battled back and a pair of Colm McGoldrick frees kept them in it and points from Sean Leo and Steven Coyles left just two in it. Paul Bradley’s first from play settled the champions, but Coleraine were really pressing and after a patient passing move Liam McGoldrick sent Ciaran Lenehan through. A goal was on but he lifted his shot over the bar under pressure from the Slaughtneil defence.
The action raced to the other end and the other number three, Brendan Rogers, sent Se McGuigan clear. He had the chance to settle it but McGeough did well to save with his legs.
There were black cards for Ciaran Lagan and Shane McGuigan as the seconds ticked away. Conor Carey’s point left just one in it in injury-time but Slaughtneil won their vital kickout – as they did throughout the second half – and Bradley blasted the ball into the clear blue yonder after the final whistle sounded to seal another memorable landmark on this remarkable run of success.