Slaughtneil one win away from remarkable 'treble-double'
Slaughtneil 2-17 Kilcar 0-17
The 'double-treble' or the 'treble-double' - nobody quite knows what to call it - but Slaughtneil are just an hour of football away from defending their Ulster titles in football, hurling and camogie after they came through a difficult test against Kilcar in Healy Park on Saturday night.
How they did it was a marvel as at half-time they were a point down, 0-8 to 0-7, and it appeared that Kilcar's impressive running game, along with the accuracy of Paddy McBrearty, could spell the end for the leg-weary Derrymen.
The secret came in their composure. Kilcar had four gilt-edged goal chances and spurned each one - not to mention the excellence of Antoin McMullan in the Slaughtneil goal - while Slaughtneil hit only two wides in the game, the second coming in the final play of the contest.
To put it another way, Kilcar had 24 efforts at goal all evening while Slaughtneil had 21. This is what economy of effort looks and feels like.
"We were a point down and they were really putting it up to us, there's no two ways about it," said Slaughtneil's assistant manager John Joe Kearney with an audible 'phew' afterwards.
"I suppose they had their goal chances in either half that they didn't put away. It could have left it a different result or a lot closer anyway. At half-time, we knew what they were capable of.
"Things went for us in the second half. We got the scores when we needed and it gave us a platform to go on."
By the quarter-hour mark Slaughtneil found themselves 0-6 to 0-1 up, Shane McGuigan and Christopher Bradley from the dead balls were accurate and a jink from Bradley after he was serviced from a quick free from McKaigue had them in a comfortable position.
But Kilcar began to push their case and they got Slaughtneil on the back foot.
McBrearty had been struggling against Rogers but the ball began to stick with his first touch and he grabbed five first-half points, three of them from play, as they turned the screw.
Kilcar were to account for the last three points of the half with McBrearty granting them the lead at the break, 0-8 to 0-7.
Just when you question Slaughtneil, they respond emphatically. The 'Championship Quarter' was all theirs, with the McKaigue brothers setting the standards.
After trading two points each, the Derrymen hit 1-4 without reply to go six clear. The hammer blow came with a Slaughtneil goal when Bradley played Sé McGuigan in who rode a couple of challenges before blasting the ball into the net off the crossbar.
The second goal arrived with a minute of normal time to play, Shane McGuigan expertly drawing the Kilcar defence before a swift handpass across the goal for Christopher Bradley to palm home.
SCORERS - Slaughtneil: C Bradley 1-5 (1f, 1 45), Sé McGuigan 1-0, Shane McGuigan 0-3, M McGrath, B Cassidy and C O'Doherty 0-2 each, P Cassidy, K McKaigue and C McKaigue 0-1 each. Kilcar: P McBrearty 0-10 (5f), B McGinley, M McClean, A McClean, C McGinley, M McHugh, S McBrearty, E McHugh 0-1 each.
SLAUGHTNEIL - A McMullan; P McNeill, B Rogers, K McKaigue; F McEldowney, C McKaigue, K Feeney; Patsy Bradley, P Cassidy; R Bradley, Shane McGuigan, M McGrath; C Bradley, Sé McGuigan, C O'Doherty. Subs: B McGuigan for McGrath (24-29, blood sub), B Cassidy for O'Doherty (30), B McGuigan for Patsy Bradley (60).
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 S Shovlin, 42m, M Sweeney for C McGinley, 44m, B O'Donnell for McShane, 60m
REF - Sean Hurson (Tyrone)