Hughes turns on the style to dethrone Slaughtneil
Scotstown 1-15 Slaughtneil 0-15
Darren Hughes was on top form as he powered Scotstown to victory over reigning champions Slaughtneil in this thrill-a-minute spectacular in front of almost 3,000 people at Clones yesterday.
The match was played at a cracking pace, with the sides exchanging scores regularly, and the partisan sets of fans baying encouragement.
Slaughtneil opened the scoring through Christopher Bradley after just 90 seconds.
But Hughes, who finished the half with 1-4, hit the reigning Ulster champions with 1-2 inside three blistering minutes to put the Monaghan champions five in front and Slaughtneil's gruelling schedule looked as if it was beginning to take its toll.
Kieran Hughes too had a big influence in defence with his scorching pace setting up a number of counter-attacks that kept the Derry men firmly on the back foot.
Scotstown were ahead by six points going into first-half stoppage-time but Slaughtneil pulled back two late points through Se McGuigan and a Paul Bradley free to leave four in it at the break, 1-9 to 0-8.
Slaughtneil came out with renewed determination for the second half and carried the game to Scotstown in an electric third quarter.
They weren't always able to translate their dominance into points, but by the 50th minute they had the margin down to the minimum, the accuracy of Paul Bradley and Christopher Bradley playing a huge part in their resurgence.
From there to the finish, though, Scotstown regained the initiative, with Conor McCarthy converting two frees and Orin Heaphey picking off an opportunist point from play to edge them three clear with two minutes remaining.
Try as they might Slaughtneil could not engineer the goal that would have put the issue to extra-time and so surrendered their provincial crown.
Scorers - Scotstown: D Hughes 1-4, C McCarthy 0-5 (3fs), R Beggan 0-2 (1f,1 '45'), O Heaphey, S Carey (2fs) 0-2 each. Slaughtneil: Paul Bradley 0-7 (6fs), C Bradley 0-4 (1f), Shane McGuigan 0-2, R Bradley, Se McGuigan 0-1 each.
Scotstown - R Beggan; D McArdle, E Caulfield, P Sherlock; F McPhillips, K Hughes, D Morgan; F Caulfield, J Turley; O Heaphey, P Keenan, C McCarthy; S Carey, D Hughes, R McKenna. Subs: B McGinnity for R McKenna (43), B Boylan for F McPhillips (51), D McCague for D Hughes (Black Card 60).
Slaughtneil - A McMullan; F McEldowney, B Rodgers, K McKaigue; P McNeill, C McKaigue, B McGuigan; Patsy Bradley, P Cassidy; P Kelly, Paul Bradley, R Bradley; C Bradley, S McGuigan, S Cassidy. Subs: Shane McGuigan for P Kelly (35), M McGrath for Patsy Bradley (40).
Ref - C Brannigan (Down)
Ulster Club SFC quarter-final