Chrissy McKaigue remains a key performer for Slaughtneil.
Chrissy McKaigue remains a key performer for Slaughtneil.

AIB Ulster Club SHC: Slaughtneil register emphatic win

AIB Ulster Club SHC semi-final

Slaughtneil 2-24 Portaferry 0-11

By Declan Bogue at Corrigan Park

Slaughtneil stormed into their seventh Ulster hurling final in a decade, and there will have been few performances as flawless as this one that brought a 19 point win over Down champions, Portaferry.

As if to underline how strong their panel looks, manager Michael McShane had the luxury of leaving established stars such as Sean ‘Tad’ ÓCaiside, Jerome McGuigan and Gerard Bradley – twice Ulster hurler of the year in recent seasons – on the bench until the second half.

A new wave of hurling talent is breaking onto this team, though it will be interesting to see if McShane is not tempted to reach for some more of the proven and gnarled veterans when they face Dunloy in the Ulster final on December 4.

By the 20th minute, it appeared this was going to be a tight contest. Portaferry were clued in to what Slaughtneil wanted to do and against the breeze, they might have been guilty of seeking to stitch together too many intricate moves.

As a result, Portaferry were able to get good contact in. But in dishing out that contact, they eventually were wore down and the superior conditioning of Slaughtneil – earned through nine Ulster hurling campaigns and several football – has led to a culture of year-round conditioning work that practically every club pay lip service to, but few actually carry out.

The Derry men hit six unanswered points to open up a gap before they left for the break.

On the resumption, they added two more before the first goal. Shea Cassidy made a beeline for the goal and when his shot was parried by Pearse Smyth, Brian Cassidy was alert and swept it to the net.

Thereafter, the physical presence of Slaughtneil told. McShane was able to roll some big guns off the bench. Shifting Shane McGuigan out of midfield and into the forward line also helped in winning the ball on the deck.

After coming on, Jerome McGuigan got on the end of a gloriously delivered square pass from Shane McGuigan, to slice it off his hurl for a brilliant second goal.

“You want to be ruthless,” said McShane afterwards.

“You want to get on top and when you are on top, put the foot on the throat and keep it there. I was disappointed in the second half because we hit a few wides and the next day we are going to need them.”

 Scorers for Slaughtneil: B Cassidy 1-7 (1f, 1sideline), C O’Doherty 0-9 (9fs), J McGuigan 1-0, Shane McGuigan 0-4, B Rogers 0-3, P McCullagh 0-1.

Scorers for Portaferry: C O’Prey 0-4 (1f), T McGrattan 0-2, R Blair 0-2 (2fs), F Turpin 0-2, D Sands 0-1.

Slaughtneil: O O’Doherty; P McNeill, K McKaigue, C McAllister; Sean Cassidy, C McKaigue, M McGrath; Shane McGuigan, C O’Doherty; P McCullagh, B Cassidy, R Ó Mianáin; B Rogers, Sé McGuigan, Shea Cassidy

Subs: S ‘Tad’ ÓCaiside for Sean Cassidy (HT), G Bradley for Shéa Cassidy (43m), J McGuigan for Sé McGuigan (43m), M McGuigan for Ó Mianain (47m), E Cassidy for McGrath (58m).

Portaferry: P Smyth; D Mallon, T Murray, R Smyth; B Trainor, C Taggart, E O’Neill; M Conlan, S Conlan; C Mageean, D Sands, C O’Prey; T McGrattan, R Blair, F Turpin.

Subs: C Fay for Blair (46m), P Doran for S Conlan (50m), C Savage for R Smyth (54m), N Milligan for McGrattan (57m).

Referee: Colm McDonald (Antrim).