Slaughtneil 1-09 Clontibret 0-07
Derry champions Slaughtneil qualified for their first Ulster Club Football final with a 1-09 to 0-07 win over Monaghan’s Clontibret at Healy Park.
Two Paul Bradley points, along with scores from Christopher Bradley, Cormac O’Doherty and Ronan Bradley, helped Slaughtneil to a 0-05 to 0-03 interval lead, with Conor McManus hitting three frees from Clontiberet.
Christopher Bradley’s 32nd-minute goal gave the Derry men a lead they never lost, with Paul Bradley finishing with six points to his name, while McManus scored all but one of Clontibret’s tally.
Slaughtneil quickly established a platform around midfield and were three points ahead inside the opening ten minutes.
Ronan Bradley, Paul Bradley and Cormac O’Doherty were all on target, and with Chrissy McKaigue pushing forward from the back at every opportunity, they had their opponents under sustained pressure from an early juncture.
Clontibret finally got their opening score in the 13th minute when McManus knocked over a free, and he narrowed the gap to one at the beginning of the second quarter.
Paul McGuigan and Conor Boyle kept it tight at the back for Clontibret, but they struggled to create openings for the front men.
They fell further behind when Paul Bradley, from a free, and Christopher Bradley, hit the target.
Clontibret should have had a goal when Eoin Greenan crossed for Ryan McGuigan at the far post, but his palmed effort lacked conviction and was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Anton McMullan.
The Monaghan men managed just three points in the first half, all from McManus frees, but they trailed by just two at the break, on a 0-05 to 0-03 scoreline.
Slaughtneil struck for a goal two minutes into the second half. Francis McEldowney spotted Christopher Bradley in acres of space and the centre-forward drilled the ball to the bottom corner of the net from 12 yards.
That score was the cushion which enabled them to control the game and keep their noses in front right to the end.
Clontibret did hit back with two more McManus scores to narrow the gap to three heading into the final quarter.
But Patsy Bradley retained valuable possession around the middle for the Derry men, and Paul Bradley was the go-to man up front.
He swung over another couple of wonderful scores to open up a six-point gap, with Padrig Kelly getting through an immense amount of work.
In the end, it was a comfortable win for the Oak Lef men, who go through to face Tyrone champions Omagh in the decider.
Slaughtneil: A McMullan, C Cassidy, F McEldowney, K McCaigue, B McGuigan C McKaigue, G Bradley, Patsy Bradley, P McGuigan, P Kelly, C Bradley (1-01), R Bradley (0-01), C O’Doherty (0-01), Paul Bradley (0-06, 3f), S McGuigan.
Subs: P McNeill for P McGuigan (39)
Clontibret: C Fadian, D Mooney, C Greenan, D Savage, D Mone, C Boyle, P McGuigan, V Corey, E Greenan, M Corey, C McManus (0-06 (5f), A Curran, C Lavelle, B Greenan, R McGuigan.
Subs: F Mone for Curran (20), P Boyle for Savage (38), JP Mone for Lavelle (38), F Greenan (0-01) for E Greenan (50) L Savage for JP Mone (53, BC),
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).