Slaughtneil end Ulster drought with gutsy victory
Slaughtneil 2-14 Loughgiel 1-13
Slaughtneil became the first Derry club to win the Four Seasons Cup after a hard-fought victory against Antrim champions Loughgiel.
They started with real intent and more than matched their more illustrious opponents for heart, work-rate and desire.
They were helped on their way by early first-half goals from Cormac O'Doherty and Brendan Rodgers.
The scoreline at half-time read 2-8 to 0-7, three Maol Connolly frees keeping Loughgiel in with a shout.
Then in the second period, Loughgiel sub Joey Scullion raised a gallop towards Oisin O'Doherty's goal and never stopped until the ball rested in the net, leaving them a mere five points adrift.
But if they needed inspiration from their former generals, it wasn't forthcoming.
Slaughtneil held out. Comfortably, bravely, assuredly.
They now go on to meet the Leinster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final in February.
And who would bet against them making it to another All-Ireland final, only in another code?
SCORERS - Slaughtneil: C O'Doherty 1-9 (8f); C McKaigue 0-3; B Rodgers 1-0; Sé McGuigan 0-2.
Loughgiel: M Connolly 0-5f; J Scullion 1-0; M McFadden 0-2; B McAuley 0-2 (1 '65); E McCloskey, D McKinley, B McCarry, L Watson 0-1 each.
SLAUGHTNEIL - O O'Doherty; R McCartney, S Cassidy, P McNeill; M McGrath, K McKaigue, Shane McGuigan; E Cassidy, C McKaigue; G Bradley, C O'Doherty, C McKenna; B Rodgers, Sé McGuigan, M McGuigan. Subs: B Cassidy for McKenna (41-51, blood sub), C McAllister for McCartney (46), B Cassidy for E Cassidy (55), G O'Kane for McKenna (62).
LOUGHGIEL - DD Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey; J Campbell, T McCloskey, T Coyle; M McFadden, D McMullan; M Connolly, E McCloskey, D McKinley; B McCarry, L Watson, S Casey. Subs: J Scullion for McCloskey (22), O McFadden for Watson (44), B McAuley for Connolly (54).
REF - James Clarke (Cavan)