Magic McGuigan makes Glen pay
O'Neills Derry SFC quarter-final: Slaughtneil 0-15 Glen 0-12
SHANE McGuigan feasted on an ocean of space to produce one of the best forward displays of the year that was ultimately the difference between Slaughtneil and Glen.
Nine points, seven of them from play, was the greatest indicator of the 23-year-old's improvement from even this time last year.
For the Emmet's, this was a revenge mission. They don't like losing to Glen and they definitely don't like losing semi-finals to them, as happened last year in Owenbeg.
That day, Ryan Dougan stood on his left foot. McGuigan couldn't get a shot away all day and finished with a single point of play.
This time, it didn't matter what Dougan did. Stand on the left, he'll go on the right.
The equaliser at 0-11 each summed it up. McGuigan was forced to carry full-tilt right across the line, a good 50 yards. Dougan had done everything right, pushed him as far wide as he could go. Off balance, going away from goal, McGuigan still found the target.
Glen took the risk of leaving their full-back line one-on-one pretty much all day, and it undid them.
While Patsy Bradley dropped back from midfield to cover the space for Slaughtneil, Conor McDevitt hadn't been detailed to mirror it. Life was exceptionally difficult for Glen because of it.
The winners used the kick pass brilliantly all afternoon. The link play between Cormac O'Doherty, Christopher Bradley and Shane McGuigan was outstanding.
“We did use [the space] well in the matter of creating chances but we weren't anywhere near clinical enough,” said Slaughtneil boss Paul Bradley.
“We should have had 2-2 after 10 minutes and the game would have had a completely different complexion if we'd got that.
“It was open but that's the way Glen play, they are athletic and they crowd that middle third rather than putting so many men behind the ball.”
The space made for an absorbing game in which Glen had to work harder for their scores, but managed to stay right on Slaughtneil's tail throughout.
They could easily have snatched it too, when a turnover on Francis McEldowney led to a late goal chance for Emmett Bradley, but his palmed effort went straight at Antoin McMullan.
The Slaughtneil goalkeeper was at his solid best as he dealt superbly with a series of testy aerial balls, particularly late on when Glen changed tact and went very direct.
Jude Donnelly's side almost fashioned the goal they needed, and despite how hard life was for them defensively and the fact that their key protagonists were quiet, the game stayed within their reach until the end.
The decision to push Ciaran McFaul to centre-forward from the throw-in played into Chrissy McKaigue's hands, allowing him to stay at six and take on a job that has been Padraig Cassidy's in recent years.
McFaul was kept on the periphery, as was Emmett Bradley for most of it, while Danny Tallon had to forage very deep to get a breath against Paul McNeill.
Alex Doherty gave Brendan Rogers trouble, as he routinely has, and finished with three points from play. He wasn't at his best but it was still a surprise to see him removed with just under 10 minutes to go.
The game had been pretty much score for score for the first 28 minutes, at which point McFaul brought it level at 0-8 apiece. Glen were having some joy pressing Slaughtneil's kickouts, with the tigerish work of their forwards bringing turnovers.
That said, the 2-2 Paul Bradley referenced as his team having missed came from the same. Shane McGuigan twice turned the ball over, but his pass for Christopher Bradley was overcooked on the first one, and Connlan Bradley pulled off a great save to deny Cormac O'Doherty with the second.
McGuigan and Bradley hit late points to give Slaughtneil a 0-10 to 0-8 interval lead, and Glen were dealt a significant double blow when Jack Doherty and Oisin Hegarty both went down right on the half-time whistle and were unable to return.
Doherty appeared to nip his hamstring carrying the ball, and as he spilled it, Hegarty's knee took an incidental blow from the bending Patsy Bradley to end his game too.
Doherty had been having a very fine outing from wing-back and was a huge loss, while Christopher Bradley exerted even greater influence after Hegarty had to be taken off.
They'd been reshaping the defence from early on, swapping Michael Warnock in for Eunan Mulholland after just 17 minutes, and Warnock did get a better handle on the lively Brian Cassidy thereafter.
They reorganised again and stuck at it manfully, hitting the first three scores of the new half to dispel any notions they were going away.
Emmett Bradley's sole point of the afternoon from a free on 34 minutes was to prove Glen's last score until Danny Tallon's lofted effort from 55 yards in stoppage time, despite loads of possession.
Shane McGuigan would kick all five of his team's remaining scores, the first four of them play, and they looked in command until Bradley's late goal chance.
It means Glen's wait for a first ever county title is extended by another year at least.
Slaughtneil march on to meet old rivals Ballinderry this weekend, with neighbours Magherafelt and The Loup facing each other in the other semi-final.
Slaughtneil: A McMullan; P Kearney, B Rogers, C McAllister; P McNeill (0-1), C McKaigue, K Feeney (0-1); P Bradley, P Cassidy; S Cassidy, C O'Doherty, M McGrath; C Bradley (0-3); Shane McGuigan (0-9, 0-2 frees), B Cassidy (0-1)
Subs: Sé McGuigan for B Cassidy (51), R Bradley for S Cassidy (55), F McEldowney for McAllister (57), P McGuigan for O'Doherty (62)
Yellow card: K Feeney (34)
Glen: C Bradley; R Dougan, E Mulholland; O Hegarty; J Doherty (0-1), C Carville (0-1), E Doherty; C McDevitt, E Bradley (0-1 free); D Tallon (0-4, 0-3 frees), C McFaul (0-1), C Mulholland (0-1); C McGuckin, A Doherty (0-3), P Gunning
Subs: M Warnock for E Mulholland (17), O McGill for Hegarty (HT), C Convery for J Doherty (HT), C McCabe for McDevitt (49), S O'Hara for A Doherty (53)
Yellow cards: C McFaul (51), C Convery (51)
Referee: B Cassidy (Bellaghy)