Banagher earn a final crack at champions Slaughtneil

McGurk Chartered Architects Derry SHC semi-finals

This year’s Derry senior hurling final will feature holders Slaughtneil – who are seeking their 10th title and a fourth successive Fr Collins Cup – and Banagher, looking for their fourth title in their first decider since they lost to Swatragh in 2012.

Banagher 1-16 Kevin Lynch’s 0-14

There was plenty of drama in the opening quarter of this semi-final. 

Kevin Lynch’s, who were without leading player Mark Craig with a quad injury, were very much out-of-sorts against a rampant Banagher, who built a 1-6 to no score lead by the 15th minute.

Shane Farren put Banagher a point ahead with a long-range free in the opening minute but then blazed the sliothar wide from a penalty when Oisin McCloskey was fouled in the goalmouth.

Pauric McCloskey and Farren, from another free, increased the lead. In the 10th minute, Pauric McCloskey put Oisin McCloskey through on the angle and he blasted the sliothar to the net for 1-3 to no score.

Moments later Kevin Lynch’s were reduced to 14 players when Liam Hinphey was shown a straight red card for pulling off the helmet of a Banagher player and that proved a massive blow to their chances in the second half when they had the advantage of the very strong wind.

Banagher were denied a second goal in the 13th minute when keeper Brian Lagan saved brilliantly from Steafan McCloskey, Kevin Lynch’s spurning a goal chance in the 21st minute when Ciaran Herron fired the sliothar wide from a penalty.

By half-time, Farren had scored 0-5, one from a ‘65’ and one from open play as Banagher extended their lead to 1-9 to 0-5, Niall Ferris scoring two excellent points for Kevin Lynch’s in the closing minutes of the half.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Pauric McCloskey and Shane Farren had goalbound shots blocked in the goalmouth, Kevin Lynch’s unable to create a serious goal threat despite a lot of pressure and five third quarter wides.

Corey O’Reilly chipped away at the lead with three points from play, Gavan McCormick converting a couple of frees but Shane Farren took his tally to 0-10, 0-8 from frees as Banagher cruised into their first final since 2012.

Slaughtneil 1-29 Swatragh 0-10

When these sides met in last year’s decider there was 32 points between them at the final whistle, 5-25 to 1-5.

At the final whsitle  yesterday evening at Owenbeg, the winning margin was 22 points, but in truth the reigning champions were in cruise control from early in the game, despite the best efforts of a Swatragh side that battled in vain to the final whistle.

That Swatragh could muster just four points from open play is testament to the gulf between the teams, Ruairi Convery landing four first half frees as Slaughtneil took a commanding 0-13 to 0-7 lead to the break against the wind.

In that opening period, Brendan Rogers was in imperious form as he scored five points from play, finishing the game with 0-7 from play to his name.

All the while, Chrissy McKaigue sat deep and picked off loose Swatragh plays at will, pushing forward to land a point in the first half and two more in the second.

And then there was the unerringly accurate Cormac O’Doherty who racked up 0-12 over the hour, with four converted frees in the first half and another eight in the second.

Eight minutes into the second half two Slaughtneil players collided with each other as they both chased a dropping ball, Sean Cassidy taken to hospital by ambulance immediately after the game with suspected concussion.

Slaughtneil didn’t really have to unduly exert themselves in the final quarter, the only goal of the game coming in the 48th minute with the score already at 0-21 to 0-7.

Gerald Bradley has been out of action with a cruciate ligament injury and he marked his 42nd minute return to competitive action with a goal six minutes later, finishing the game with another two points from open play as the Emmet’s cruised into their fourth successive final.

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