Derry SFC: Wins for Bellaghy, Lavey and Ballinascreen

Magherafelt's Conall Heron celebrates a goal in Sunday's win over the Loup                 Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Magherafelt's Conall Heron celebrates a goal in Sunday's win over the Loup Picture: Margaret McLaughlin Magherafelt's Conall Heron celebrates a goal in Sunday's win over the Loup Picture: Margaret McLaughlin


Group A

Coleraine 0-10 Lavey 2-9; Swatragh 0-10 Ballinascreen 1-8; Bellaghy 3-10 Dungiven 0-11

A TREBLE of majors helped Bellaghy come out on the right side of a battling contest with Dungiven at Páirc Seán de Brún on the opening weekend of the Derry SFC.

Only six minutes had elapsed when Karl McCallion fisted in Bellaghy’s first goal and it was two three minutes later thanks to a Christopher Downey shot. Dungiven just about stayed in touch, however, and by the short whistle the score was 2-4 to 0-5 in Bellaghy’s favour.

The game looked over as a contest when Oisín McErlean got Bellaghy’s third goal that emanated from a move straight from the second-half throw-in and, although Dungiven continued to battle, they never got close after that.

Things don’t get any easier for St Canice’s as they will next provide the opposition for the start of Glen’s title defence, with a 7.30pm throw-in at Páirc Uí Cathain for Wednesday night’s game.

Two early goals paved the way for a Lavey victory over Eoghan Rua in Coleraine on Saturday night.

The game was nip and tuck when Éamon McGill grabbed the visitors’ first goal on 12 minutes and a second major six minutes later from Ciaran Hendry put the visitors into a commanding six-point lead.

Coleraine refused to throw the towel in and, by half-time, they had pulled the deficit back to two, 2-3 to 0-7.

Lavey had the breeze with them in the second-half and a string of points from Jamie Duggan, Niall Toner and Patrick McGurk helped them see out a relatively comfortable five-point victory.

An early goal from a combination of an Emmett Duggan effort and a Benny Heron rebound helped Ballinascreen to a one-point victory Swatragh.

Despite that goal, Swatragh went in at the break a point to the good, 1-2 to 0-6, but points from Antain Donnelly and Heron in the second-half helped Ballinascreen over the line.

Group B

Steelstown 0-12 Slaughtneil 0-12; Magherafelt 2-10 Loup 0-12; Kilrea 2-11 Ballinderry 1-12

SLAUGHTNEIL'S 2023 Derry SFC campaign got off to an underwhelming start in Derry city on Saturday evening as they were fortunate to leave Pairc Bhrid, Steelstown with a draw.

Even minus the All-Ireland Championship’s top-scorer Shane McGuigan, Mark Doran’s team were strongly fancied to account for a Brian Ógs side who were All-Ireland intermediate champions two years ago.  

However, with former Donegal player Paddy Campbell back in the Brian Ógs hotseat, Steelstown gave as good as they got and should have edged an absorbing contest.

With former sharp-shooter Mickey McKinney now donning the number one jersey, Steelstown owned the ball for the opening four-and-a-half minutes and the scene was set. Possession would be king.

Derry U20 player Donncha Gilmore was tasked with curtailing potential Allstar, Brendan Rogers and did a brilliant job, while Cahir McMonagle was Steelstown’s attacking ace, firing over superb points off both his left and right.

The home frustration was they twice had possession in the closing minutes but couldn’t fashion a shooting chance.

Slaughtneil weren’t coming out either so the game disappointingly petered out in a ‘stand-off’ of sorts.

The first half saw nothing between the teams. Top-class points from McMonagle, McKinney, Forester and McCarron (free) had  the home side 0-4 to 0-2 up but Slaughtneil responded though Cormac O’Doherty to ensure parity at the break.

Slaughtneil’s quick start to the second half looked to have caught the home side out as the visitors forged a three-point lead but in the final quarter Steelstown outscored their visitors 0-4 to 0-1.

McMonagle sent Steelstown into the lead with six minutes left but Slaughtneil responded through Padraig Cassidy, their best player on the day, with his third from play to secure the draw.

Magherafelt proved to be the strongest side on the home strait in yesterday’s Group B game against the Loup, with Conall Heron getting both their goals.  

Although the home side led by a point at half-time, 1-5 to 0-7, it was the Loup who kicked on early in the second-half, building up a three-point lead by the 50th minute. However, Magherafelt found greater reserves and were already back in front by the time they got the second goal that cemented the win.

The Loup will travel to Newbridge on Wednesday night for their second game of the Championship, with a 7.30pm throw-in for that game against Sean O’Leary’s.

On Saturday night, Kilrea got off to a winning start at home to Ballinderry.