Polished performance sees Slaughtneil into Derry SFC semi-final

Slaughtneil's Shane McGuigan on the attack during the Derry Senior Football Championship quarter-final match at Owenbeg on Saturday Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
Michael McMullan at Owenbeg

O'Neill's Derry SFC quarter-final: Slaughtneil 0-16 Swatragh 0-6

SLAUGHTNEIL eased their way into a 10th semi-final in 15 seasons after a more polished second half performance against neighbours Swatragh.

Paul Bradley's side were only 0-5 to 0-3 ahead at the break despite winning all but four of the 17 restarts from either goalkeeper in the opening half.

The Emmet's boss was happy with his how his team performed, highlighting how they targeted kick-outs after Swatragh's “aggressive” approach to Bellaghy and Glen's restarts.

“We targeted both sets of kick outs,” said a composed Bradley, content with this team's performance.

“We were brilliant on ours and brilliant on theirs, but putting it on the scoreboard was the big one” he added of their improved efficiency after the break.

There was a first championship outing of the season for Brendan Rogers, who picked up Oisin McWilliams, with his twin brother Lorcan held scoreless from play by Chrissy McKaigue.

With Tiarnán Walsh dropping off as the Swatragh sweeper, it allowed Patsy Bradley to sit deep for Slaughtneil when they lost possession.

Conor McAtamney was assigned to Shane McGuigan, with Christopher Bradley well shackled by a combination of his marker Niall Coyle and the positioning of Walsh in the defensive pocket.

It was Sean Francis Quinn who carried an almost lone Swatragh threat, getting on as much ball as his direct opponent Padraig Cassidy, who played his first full game since last year's semi-final extra win over Lavey.

It took seven minutes before Christopher Bradley to hit the first score, finding a pocket of space inside the 45-metre line to drill over. He added another with Shane McGuigan's ever-improving right peg making it 0-3 to 0-0 midway through the half.

Lorcan McWilliams, form a free, notched a first Swatragh point after 16 minutes as Slaughtneil began to misfire in front of goal.

“Even Sammy (Christopher Bradley) alone, and he is probably our most accurate man, had four (missed) shots in the first half,” manager Paul Bradley added of their first half.

Cormac O'Doherty found space to kick over off his left foot, with Jerome McGuigan hitting the first of a four-point haul. Points from Anton Tohill and James Kearney (mark) left the Swa' in touch at the interval.

Slaughtneil moved through the gears in the third quarter to lay the foundations for victory. Shane McGuigan added two points before later spinning out of traffic to make a fisted point for Padraig Cassidy and Slaughtneil were 0-8 to 0-4 ahead.

Swatragh never threatened a goal, with dropped shots to the safety of goalkeeper McMullan the sum of their efforts. There was a glimmer of a chance when Patrick Kearney passed to Anton Tohill, but with a support runner too far ahead, he tuned to slot over.

Sé McGuigan's outside of the boot half chance for goal had Rory McGurk scrambling across to turn the ball away for a '45' Shane McGuigan converted to stretch the Emmet's lead to six points.

A monster point from Francis Kearney, made by Sean Francis Quinn's continued industry, was Swatragh's last score with 10 minutes to go.

Jerome McGuigan had Slaughtneil's best chance for goal but he palmed Peter McCullagh's quickfire squared pass over the bar from point-blank range on the way to a comfortable win.

Slaughtneil: A McMullan; P McNeill, C McKaigue; P Bradley; K Feeney K McKaigue (0-1), C McAllister; B Rogers, J McGuigan (0-4); R Ó Mianáin, Shane McGuigan (0-5, 0-1 ‘45'), P Cassidy (0-1); C Bradley (0-2, 0-1frees); Sé McGuigan, C O'Doherty (0-1)

Subs: B Cassidy (0-1) for C O'Doherty (41), Shea Cassidy (0-1) for Sé McGuigan (53), P McCullagh for C Bradley (53), R McCartney for R Ó Mianáin (58)

Swatragh: R McGurk; A McLaughlin, A McGuckin; T Walsh; N Coyle; SF Quinn, C McAtamney; A Tohill (0-2), N McAtamney, O McWilliams; D Bradley, P Kearney (0-1), S Kearney; J Kearney (0-1m), L McWilliams (0-1f)

Subs: B Diamond for D Bradley (INJ 34), F Kearney (0-1) for N McAtamney (41), F McGurk for J Kearney (56)

Yellow cards: T Walsh (35), N Coyle (50)

Referee: JJ Cleary (Castledawson)