Killyclogher (Tyrone) 0-08 Slaughtneil (Derry) 1-11
Derry champions Slaughtneil powered through to the Ulster Club SFC final with a 1-11 to 0-8 win over Tyrone champions Killyclogher at the Athletic Grounds.
A terrific display of confident ball retention and support play frustrated the Red Hand champions, and Meehaul McGrath’s 33rd minute goal gave them the platform to push on for a convincing win.
They will face Kilcoo of Down in the decider on November 27.
Mark Bradley flashed the ball over the bar with his first touch, winning the opening joust in a fascinating personal duel with Derry defender Karl McKaigue.
Shane McGuigan levelled from a free, but the Tyrone men went 0-3 to 0-2 ahead in the 14th minute when Bradley swung over a brilliant free from wide on the right.
Paul Bradley and Christopher Bradley probed for openings as Slaughtneil moved the ball with precision through the hands, and the former slotted over a couple of frees, one of them due to a brilliant intervention from full back Brendan Rogers, who sliced through the Killyclogher defence with a surging run from deep.
That inspirational drive from the Derry star set the tone for the remainder of the half as Slaughtneil quickly learned that if they ran at their opponents, a nervous Killyclogher defence would cough up the frees.
And Bradley duly landed his fourth placed ball after Conall McCann had narrowed the gap, to send the Oak Leaf men in with a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.
They then struck a major blow two minutes into the second half. Se McGuigan darted past a couple of defenders and slipped a pass to Meehaul McGrath for a finish to the net from close range.
Now with the wind in their backs, the Derry men seized total control, their ball retention exemplary as they frustrated their opponents with lengthy phases of play.
Each score was carefully constructed, with Padraig Cassidy and Christopher Bradley nailing points as they went seven clear by the 36th minute.
Padraig Cassidy curbed the running threat posed by Tiernan McCann, and at the back, Rogers and Keelan Feeney were imperious.
The movement of Se McGuigan and Christopher Bradley presented a constant threat to the St Mary’s men but they managed to weather the storm to get back on the attack in the closing ten minutes.
Mark Bradley converted a couple of frees, and they had a point from Tiernan Cox, who also brought a magnificent save from Antoin McMullan.
In the end, it was comfortable for Mickey Moran’s side as they secured their place in the final with scores from Se McGuigan and Ronan Bradley.
Slaughtneil: A McMullan, F McEldowney, B Rogers, K McKaigue, P McNeill, C McKaigue, K Feeney, Patsy Bradley, P Cassidy (0-01), Shane McGuigan (0-01, f), Paul Bradley (0-05, 5f), M McGrath (1-00), C Bradley (0-02), Se McGuigan (0-01), C O’Doherty.
Subs: R Bradley (0-01) for O’Doherty (52), P Kelly for McGrath (63)
Killyclogher: S Fox, M Swift (0-01), D Gorman, G Sludden, T McCann, E Bradley, G Wallace, C McCann (0-01), F Meenagh, A Kelly, T Flanagan, N Donnelly, E McFadden, M Bradley (0-04, 3f), S O’Neill (0-01, f).
Subs: J Carlin for Flanagan (26), T Cox (0-01) for Donnelly (43), D Leonard for O’Neill (44), M Meenagh for F Meenagh (58)
Referee: C Branagan (Down)