Hurling & Camogie

Derry hurling champions Slaughtneil cruise to opening win in defence of their title

Karl McKaigue was among the goals as Slaughtneil easily beat Na Magna in the Derry SHC
Karl McKaigue was among the goals as Slaughtneil easily beat Na Magna in the Derry SHC

REIGNING champions Slaughtneil began the defence of the Fr Collins Cup with the minimum of fuss with a 3-31 to 1-9 Group A win at Na Magha at the weekend.

Goals from Cormac O’Doherty, Peter McCullagh and Karl McKaigue shot Michael McShane’s side to a comfortable win as they take aim on an 11th title in succession.

Emmet’s were without Chrissy McKaigue and Shane McGuigan, who were taking time out after county football duty, and are also having to plan without Brian Cassidy and Seán Ó Caiside who are on their travels.

All three goals came in the first half, with converted defender Karl McKaigue  (right) excelling in a new role in attack.

In the other game in the group, a late strike from Noel Rafferty clinched victory for Ballinascreen in a 2-14 to 3-8 win over Swatragh at Davitt Park.

Cormac Gough hit 1-4 for ’Screen and it looked like they’d have to settle for a draw until Rafferty’s late draw.

Last year’s beaten finalists Kevin Lynch’s also got their campaign off to a winning start when Corey O’Reilly landed a dozen points as they saw off Eoghan Rua 0-18 to 0-7 at home in Group B. 

Former goalkeeper Leo Passmore hit six of the visitors’ total, with former Derry star Liam Hinphey continuing his stellar club career between the posts for Kevin Lynch’s.

Odhran McKeever and Conor Kelly have been missing this season, with John Mullan and Richie Mullan also opting for a summer of hurling in America. The latter made a cameo appearance in the second half.

The first game took place on Thursday night when Banagher came out on the right side of a 0-23 to 1-18 clash at home to Lavey in Group B.

Banagher led by a point at the break before pulling clear and it took a Fintan Bradley goal to shoot Lavey back into contention.

The sides were level with six minutes remaining before Banagher pulled across the finish line.

In a change this season, there will be no senior championship semi-finals.

The top teams in each group will contest the senior final, with the second-placed teams facing off in the intermediate decider.

The junior final will take place between the teams finishing in third place.