Hurling and camogie

Derry SHC: Slaughtneil home in on final place

  Brendan Rogers celebrates after scoring a goal for Slaughtneil in last year’s Derry senior hurling final win over Swatragh. The teams meet in the semi-finals tomorrow with the reigning champions favourite to advance
Seamus Mullan

McGurk Architects Senior Hurling Championship

THE Derry senior hurling semi-finals take place at Owenbeg tomorrow with two local derbies.

Neighbours Kevin Lynch’s and Banagher meet at 2pm and holders and hot favourites Slaughtneil play Swatragh in a repeat of last year’s one-sided final at 3.45pm.

Banagher had a very impressive win over a good Ballinascreen team but this one against an experienced Kevin Lynch’s will be an even harder task.

With Dungiven out of the football championship, they have just hurling to concentrate on while Banagher have eight hurlers on their football team who will play Ballinderry a week later. In the quarter-final, Kevin Lynch’s expectedly brushed aside the challenge of Na Magha.

Banagher, like the Kevin Lynch’s, are loaded with experience for a game that looks to be a contest between two evenly-matched teams.

Kevin Lynch’s have been the one team that has been able to put it up to Slaughtneil. They ran them close in the semi-final last year.

The Lynch’s have been putting in a big effort to get back to the top of hurling tree in Derry and will be slight favourites for this one despite the probable absence of the injured Mark Craig who came on as a late replacement in the football defeat to Glen and did more damage to an existing quad muscle injury.

Ciaran Mackle could return to competitive action after a lengthy absence through injury but Gavan McCormick is an injury doubt.

Banagher have rarely managed a championship victory over their neighbours but this looks to be as good a chance as any.

They are strong in defence with Ruairi McCloskey and Sean McCullagh quality defenders in front of excellent ’keeper Daryl McDermott.

The Hinphey brothers are solid in the middle third while Niall Ferris, Gavin McCormick, Conor McElhinney and Corey O’Reilly have an eye for scores.

Shane Farren is the target man for the St Mary’s. He scored 1-4 against Ballinascreen with Stefan and Oisin McCloskey getting the other goals.

Brain Og McGilligan was excellent at midfield Kevin Lynch’s have the edge in championship experience but Banagher showed in the win over Ballinascreen that that they are very capable of upsetting the odds. LAST year, Slaughtneil had an easy win over Swatragh in the final and came close to taking the Ulster title.

Spare a thought for the gallant hurlers of the Davitt’s club – with Eoghan Rua pulling out they did not get a quarter-final game and have not played for quite some time. In a situation like that it is difficult to keep players in training.

In their quarter-final, Slaughtneil ran up a frightening 6-30 against Lavey and have class all over the field. With Cormac O’Doherty in brilliant form, it is hard to see and upset. He scored 2-12 against Lavey and was substituted with 15 minutes to go.

Add in Mark McGuigan and the sublime skills of Brendan Rogers and it makes the Swatragh task more mountainous.

Michael Conway will be giving his all for the Swatragh cause as will the accurate Ruairi Convery, Eugene McGuckin and Conor Quinn.

It is hard to see anything other than a comfortable Slaughtneil victory but local derbies can bring out the best in underdogs but there would be an upset of David and Goliath proportions in this one is Swatragh succeed. 

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