13-man Na Piarsaigh book All Ireland final date as they see off Slaughtneil
Na Piarsaigh 3-15 Slaughtneil 3-8
NA Piarsaigh survived a real first half rattle, and two red cards almost immediately after the break, to book their place in the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick's Day.
The fear for Slaughtneil was that they wouldn't have enough hurling done, having to balance their football exertions. All the noises out of their camp suggested they had corrected that, playing a Tipperary team and various Carlow outfits.
Perhaps mindful of what the Munster champions had done to another Ulster club in maroon - Ruairi Óg Cushendall in the All-Ireland final a couple of years back - Slaughtneil made a few tactical alterations.
Karl McKaigue picked up Adrian Breen and held him scoreless.
Chrissy McKaigue lay much deeper to frustrate David Breen and the aerial ability of Gerald Bradley was utilised occasionally close to goal.
The Derry men had their first goal from a penalty, Na Piarsaigh full-back Mike Casey dragging Brendan Rogers down with a rugby tackle, while Cormac O'Doherty stitched his shot straight down the middle to open a four point lead up just after the quarter-hour mark.
Ronan Lynch was keeping Na Piarsaigh in it with his accuracy from frees and eventually they drew level when Conor Boylan wriggled past Sean 'Tad' Cassidy after taking Adrian Breen's crossfield ball and laced past Oisin O'Doherty in goal.
Just one minute later though, Slaughtneil had their second goal when Cormac O'Doherty's floated delivery was caught by Rogers. He spotted Brian Cassidy and handpassed, and the move was rewarded with another major as the underdogs went in at half-time, 2-6 to 1-6 to the good, even after ten wides in that period.
Na Piarsaigh took control even in the period they lost Tommy Grimes and Boylan to straight red cards, the high point of that ten minute spell when they took the lead for the first time the goal created by half-time sub Shane Dowling to put Kevin Downes in the clear and rattle the net.
Despite the numerical advantage, Slaughtneil began to tire as the little flashes of Dowling's brilliance, married with the sheer wearing effect that Ronan Lynch was having from the placed ball, edged them out of the contest.
The final goal came like an exclamation point for Na Piarsaigh's superiority. The ball ran loose close to Slaughtneil's goal. Dowling rose it to above head height and flashed it on the volley past O'Doherty to the top corner.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: R Lynch 0-14, 0-10f, 1x'65', C Boylan, S Dowling, K Downes 1-0 each, P Casey 0-1
Scorers for Slaughtneil: C O'Doherty 1-0 pen, 0-3, 2f, B Cassidy 1-2, G Bradley 1-0, B Rogers, C McKaigue, M McGrath 0-1 each
Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; J Boylan, M Casey, N Buckley; A Dempsey, C King, T Grimes; R Lynch, W O'Donoghue; A Breen, D Breen, D Dempsey; C Boylan, K Downes, P Casey
Subs:, S Dowling for A Breen (HT), K Ryan for D Breen (54), K Kennedy for Dempsey (56)
Slaughtneil: O O'Doherty; P McNeill, Sean 'Tad' Cassidy, K McKaigue; Shane McGuigan, M McGrath, C McKenna; E Cassidy, C McAllister; C McKaigue, B Rodgers, G Bradley; C O'Doherty, M McGuigan, B Cassidy
Subs: G O'Kane for McAllister (50)
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)
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