Slaughtneil 2-17 Kilcar 0-17
Slaughtneil’s class and might carried them through to another provincial decider as they remained on course for a third Ulster Club SFC title in four seasons, defeating Kilcar by 2-17 to 0-17 at Healy Park.
They appeared to be in trouble when they trailed by 0-8 to 0-7 to the Donegal champions at the interval, but it was a familiar sight as they seized control and steered a firm path to the finish.
Second-half goals from Christopher Bradley and Se McGuigan sealed it for Mickey Moran’s side, and not even Paddy McBrearty’s ten points haul was enough to bring Kilcar close to causing a shock.
In front of a crowd of 3,120, Cormac O’Doherty’s early score was cancelled out by a Paddy McBrearty free, and ChristopherBradley’s ’45 had just nudged the Derry men back in front when McBrearty sprinted through to bring a brilliant save from Antoin McMullan.
The reigning champions, physically stronger and highly impressive in their support play and use of the long kick-pass, were able to find gaps in a packed Kilcare defence for Christopher Braldey and Meehaul McGrath to stretch their advantage.
But the Donegal men created a second goal chance when Andrew McClean send Conor Doherty in, but his shot from close range was deflected round a post by Karl McKaigue.
Ciaran McGinley and Mark McHugh were beginning to impose themselves on the midfield battle, and Kilcar stepped up the tempo, closing the gap with three more McGreaty scores and an Andrew McClean effort, and with 20 minutes played, a five points deficit had been trimmed back to the minimum.
But the Emmets were extremely comfortable on the ball and highly effective in holding possession, stringing together as many as 30 passes in the build-up for O’Doherty’s second score.
Kilcar, however, started to run directly at the opposition defence, reeling off a string of points late in the half, with McBrearty bringing his tally to five, while Mark McHugh and Stephen McBrearty were also on target to send them in at the break with a 0-8 to 0-7 lead.
Shane McGuigan and Brian Cassidy fired over Slaughtneil pointsd, which were cancelled out by Paddy McBrearty and Ciaran McGinley as the second half got under way at a searing pace.
And it was defender Karl McKaigue who shot Mickey Moran’s side back in front as they pressed forward in numbers. Older brother Chrissy also charged through from deep to land an inspirational point, pushing hjis side three clear.
And they put daylight between the sides in the 42nd minute when Se McGuigan blasted the ball to the roof of the net.
Now, with a six points lead, they were happy to starve their opponents of possession with willing running and ball retention, tightening their grip with a couple of Christopher Bradley efforts.
Kilcar battled to the end, pulling back scores through McBrearty, Matthew McClean and Eoin McHugh, but it was all over for them when Bradley palmed home a late goal.
Slaughtneil: A McMullan; P McNeill, B Rogers, K McKaigue (0-1); F McEldowney, C McKaigue (0-1), K Feeney; P Bradley, P Cassidy (0-1); R Bradley, Shane McGuigan (0-3, 1f), M McGrath (0-2); C Bradley (1-5, 0-1f, 0-1 ’45), Se McGuigan (1-0), C O’Doherty (0-2).
Subs: B Cassidy (0-2) for O’Doherty (30+2), B McGuigan for P Bradley (59)
Kilcar: E McGinley; B McGinley (0-1), C McShane, B Shovlin; R McHugh, M Hegarty, P Carr; C McGinley (0-1), M McHugh (0-1); S McBrearty (0-1), E McHugh (0-1), C Doherty; A McClean (0-1), P McBrearty (0-10, 5f), S Shovlin.
Subs: M McClean (0-1) for Shovlin (41), M Sweeney for C McGinley (43), B O’Donnell for McShane (59)
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).