McGuigan's knockout blow seals four in a row
Slaughtneil 4-12 Ballinascreen 1-11 Derry SFC final
Shane McGuigan scored 2-4 as Slaughtneil defeated Ballinascreen by 10 points at Celtic Park to claim the title for the fourth time in a row yesterday.
The Emmets raced into a 0-4 to nil lead with six minutes on the clock. Padraig Cassidy, Shane McGuigan, Sé McGuigan and, with the outside of the boot, Christopher Bradley all converted scores as the holders threw down the gauntlet to a side that had not lifted the John McLaughlin Cup since 1973.
However, rather than wilt in the late September sunshine, Ballinascreen burst into life, as county star Benny Heron - who was covering every blade of grass - bravely took the fight to the champions.
Indeed, St Colm's hit four of the next five scores through Shane Mulgrew, Ronan Murphy, Phillip Bradley and the impressive Brendan Herron.
Unfortunately for the underdogs, that run of scoring was punctuated by a Chrissy McKaigue goal, set up by fellow defender Brendan Rogers' rampaging burst forward.
Slaughtneil then took a firm grip on the proceedings in the second quarter of the game, with two 'Sammy' Bradley points sandwiching a 21st-minute Shane McGuigan goal which rocketed into the top left-hand corner of Niall McGlade's net.
Trailing 2-6 to 0-5, Ballinascreen once again battled back and again it was their talisman Heron who led the way, launching a monster point soon after Brendan Herron, also playing well, scored his second.
However, Slaughtneil, as they usually do, had the last word.
Shane McGuigan (1-2 for the half) and Meehaul McGrath both pointed at the fag end of the half to see their side seven ahead at the break, leading 2-8 to 0-7.
That lead had stretched to 11 points early in the second-half, with Keelan Feeney's 31st-minute goal all but confirming a Slaughtneil victory.
Beaten, but unbowed, Ballinascreen continued to fight, with Anton Kelly hitting his side's only goal of the game, palming home in the 39th minute.
However, Slaughtneil countered that immediately and when Shane McGuigan slotted home his second goal, and Slaughtneil's fourth, it firmly nailed the coffin shut on Liam Donnelly's side.
The remainder of the game saw Slaughtneil do what Slaughtneil do best - play 'keep ball' and frustrate their beaten opponents.
Ballinascreen did manage to score some late points through the hard-working Phillip Bradley (shortly before his 58th-minute dismissal) and a late brace from free-taker Shane Mulgrew.
The holders were also afforded the luxury of missing an injury-time penalty when Niall McGlade dived low to his right to thwart Sammy Bradley.
Scorers- Slaughtneil: Shane McGuigan 2-4 (1f), C McKaigue 1-0, K Feeney 1-0, C Bradley 0-3, P Cassidy, Sé McGuigan, M McGrath, R Bradley, P Bradley (1f) 0-1 each
Ballinascreen: S Mulgrew 0-4f, A Kelly 1-0, Brendan Herron, P Bradley 0-2 each, R Murphy, Benny Heron, B Grant 0-1 each
Slaughtneil: A McMullan, P McNeill, B Rogers, K McKaigue, F McEldowney, C McKaigue, K Feeney, Py Bradley, P Cassidy, C O'Doherty, Pl Bradley, M McGrath, Sh McGuigan, Se McGuigan, C Bradley. Subs: R Bradley for C O'Doherty (50), B McGuigan for F McEldowney (51), P McGuigan for Py Bradley (53)
Ballinascreen: N McGlade, P McGlade, D McBride, E Gilmore, K Conway, M McShane, P Bradley, P Burns, A Kelly, C McWilliams, S Mulgrew, B Herron, B Heron, R Murphy, B Grant. Subs: M McBride for P Burns (26), M Bradley for E Gilmore (26), G Conway for R Murphy (50), JP Devlin for A Kelly (53)
Ref - D Mullan (Glenullin)