Hurling and camogie

Slaughtneil continue quest for 10th title on the trot in Derry SHC semi-final with Ballinascreen

Brian Cassidy has been in fine scoring form for Slaughtneil in their Derry SHC campaign this season Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
MICHAEL McMULLAN

Leadon Timber Frame Senior Hurling Championship semi-final: Slaughtneil v Ballinascreen (tomorrow, Swatragh, 4.45pm)

ULSTER champions Slaughtneil continue their quest for a tenth successive Derry title against Ballinascreen tomorrow.

The Emmet's, comfortable winners over Na Magha and Lavey, were given a scare at home to parish rivals Swatragh last week when Eugene McGuckin reduced the gap to a single point with 43 minutes on the clock.

In the absence of skipper Cormac O'Doherty and goal machine Brendan Rogers, they needed nine Brian Cassidy points to help keep their noses in front before Shane McGuigan cemented the win with a 58th minute goal.

Michael McShane, in his eighth season at the helm, has always threw youth into the mix and this year is no different.

Ruairi Ó Mianáin emerged on the back to a stellar underage career, with Peter McCullagh getting a run of games after a torrid time with injury, with Jack, Shea and Eamon Cassidy (the latter two brothers of Brian) also adding a fresh impetus.

Jerome McGuigan and Conor McAllister, both replaced in their football win over Newbridge, didn't feature last weekend.

It will be interesting how the Emmet's balance their panel with a football clash against Ballinderry five days later in a congested championship they have become well used to.

The difference now, is the accumulation of miles in the legs from sustained club and county duty.

Ballinascreen have their own injury concerns after last weekend's defeat to Kevin Lynch's.

Midfielder John McCloskey took part in the warm-up before togging back in again and was a miss in the engine room.

Former Derry star Paul Cleary limped out of the game, with Aaron Kelly replaced injured at half time and full-forward Anton Scullion forced off late on.

Ballinascreen struggled to secure their own puck-outs in a crucial spell when the Lynch's turned up the heat after bagging their first goal on their way to a 2-12 to 0-6 interval lead.

Only Ciaran McBride and Paul Cleary were on target from play, with Cormac Gough their main source of scores from placed balls.

A combination of rushed clearances from the back and a lack of movement up front left them with the cohesion to engineer an out and out goal chance.

Cathal McDaid's side, without an appearance in a final since Slaughtneil's breakthrough year of 2013, will be rank outsiders.

Without a goal in their last two outings, ‘Screen must collectively help goalkeeper Marty Mulgrew keep a clean sheet if they have any designs on causing what would be a major shock.

Leadon Timber Frame Senior Hurling Championship qualifiers:

Lavey v Eoghan Rua (today, Slaughtneil, 3pm); Na Magha v Banagher (tomorrow, Swatragh 2pm)

BANAGHER will contest tomorrow's (Swatragh 2pm) intermediate/junior qualifier after failing to make the cut in the senior grade this season.

As winners of the Ulster intermediate title last year, they won't be allowed to progress in Ulster at the same should they retrain their county title.

Darragh Cartin made a return from injury last week for the Feeny side and they'll face a Na Magha team who gave Lavey a scare last weekend.

Deaglan Foley has led the city men so far and they'll take heart going into this clash.

Lavey had Segdae Melaugh to thank for pulled them out of the fire with a late goal and they will take on Coleraine in the other qualifier today (Slaughtneil 3pm).

With Eamon McGill and Ciaran Hendry – who scored 1-10 last week - leading the charge for Liam Watson's men, they should progress and an intermediate run could be in their sights.

The qualifier losers will contest the junior final with the winners joining the beaten senior semi-finalists in the intermediate semi-finals.