Slaughtneil 1-17 Kevin Lynch's 2-09
Slaughtneil made it nine Derry hurling titles in succession after surviving a second-half scare against old foes Kevin Lynch's.
The Emmet's looked to have all but wrapped up the game in a blistering first-half display that left them 11 points ahead and with one hand on the Fr Collins Cup, only for the Dungiven men to produce a vastly improved second half that brought the deficit back to four points on three occasions.
That would be as close as they got though as Cormac O'Doherty's seven frees and Brian Cassidy's 1-03 proved enough for Slaughtneil to retain the trophy, which came at a cost with both O'Doherty and Chrissy McKaigue picking up injuries.
Lynch's sprung something of a surprise by naming Liam Óg Hinphey at No 1, perhaps feeling the former Derry player's experience would be needed on the big occasion. And they weren't wrong as the champions took charge from early with Brian Cassidy's early goal helping them into a 1-05 to 0-02 lead by the first-half water break.
From there, the game took on a sense of inevitability about it. Lynch's had set up with Richie Mullan sweeping which counterproductively meant Gerald Bradley became a free man for Slaughtneil and he was the base from which many first-half attacks were built.
Seaimpíní Sinsir Iomána Dhoire 2021 Derry Senior Hurling Champions— CLG Roibeard Eiméid, Sleacht Néill (@GACSlaughtneil) October 24, 2021
Tá Corn Athair Ó Coileáin bainte againn den naoú huair as a chéile!
The Fr Collins Cup has been won for the 9th time in a row by our Senior hurlers! pic.twitter.com/TTKPieWjXJ
One man to benefit in the opening half was goalscorer Cassidy who fed off the hard-working Sé McGuigan and grabbed 1-01 from play, including that sixth minute goal which was flashed into the net after good work from O'Doherty to intercept a short Lynch's puckout.
The champions were already 0-02 to 0-01 up at that point, an O'Doherty free and one from Rogers cancelling out John Mullan opening point for the Lynch's.
A Richie Mullan free answered Cassidy's goal but they would manage only one more score for the remainder of the half and Slaughtneil built what looked an unassailable interval lead of 1-11 to 0-03, despite Lynch's having the breeze to come after the break.
O'Doherty enjoyed a quiet enough half but still managed six frees. With a defence that was offering Lynch's precious little to pin their hopes on, the 11-point half-time advantage looked well beyond Lynch's.
If it was though, no one told the Dungiven men who returned to the field with renewed intensity, hitting the second's half's opening three scores through Tiarnan McHugh, Richie Mullan (free) and a brilliant effort from Odhran McKeever from well inside his own half.
The tails were up but Slaughtneil seemed to have dealt with that after Cassidy and O'Doherty (free) pointed at the other end.
Lynch's would not be denied though with a more direct approach and greater intensity causing Slaughtneil problems and paying real dividends.
Kelly's first goal on 47 minutes was superb and owed everything to a brilliant reverse pass inside from Odhran McKeever. Galloping on to it, Kelly still had plenty to do but strode forward and fired a superb high finish across Oisín O'Doherty and into the net for 1-14 to 1-07.
That offered a glimmer of hope but when a second arrived only three minutes later thanks to the same combination and same outcome, it was game on at 1-15 to 2-07 with ten minutes still to play.
The loss of captain and talisman O'Doherty didn't help the Slaughtneil cause but the Emmet's have been down this road before and the experience was key. How many teams who lose a player like O'Doherty can call on one as good as Brendan Rogers to step in?
Not many but that's exactly what Rogers did, firing over one from play and then taking on his captain's free-taking responsibilities to fire over the insurance point that means Slaughtneil's dominance of Derry goes on for another year.
Slaughtneil: Oisín O'Doherty, Karl McKaigue (0-01), Shaned McGuigan, Paul McNeill, Sean Cassidy, Conor McKenna, Meehaul McGrath, Gerald Bradley (0-01), Chrissy McKaigue, Mark McGuigan, Cormac O'Doherty (0-07, 7f), Brendan Rodgers (0-03), Jerome McGuigan (0-01), Sé McGuigan (0-01), Brian Cassidy (1-03).
Subs: Shea Cassidy for M McGuigan (50), Conor McAllister for Sean Cassidy (52), Jack Cassidy for Sé McGuigan (57), Pronsias Burke for C O'Doherty (58).
Kevin Lynch's: Liam Og Hinphey, Jack Mullan, Paddy Kelly, Niall McNicholl, Niall Ferris, Richie Mullan (0-04, 4f), Darragh McGilligan, Thomas Brady, John Mullan (0-01), Sean Kelly, Odhran McKeever (0-01), Shea McKeever, Conor Kelly (2-01), Tiernan McHugh (0-01), Adrian Armstrong.
Subs: Padraig O'Kane (0-01) for A Armstrong (36), Eoghan Cassidy for T Brady (43), Mark Craig for S McKeever (43), Conor McKelvey for K Mullan (48).
Referee: Owen Elliott (Antrim).