Slaughtneil players celebrating following the AIB Ulster Club SHC win.
Slaughtneil players celebrating following the AIB Ulster Club SHC win.

AIB Ulster Club SHC: Slaughtneil set the standard

AIB Ulster Club SHC Final

Slaughtneil 1-14 Ballycran 0-10

By Dan Bannon at Corrigan Park

Slaughtneil, the holders of the Four Seasons Cup before Covid, were in no mood to release their grip on the trophy or indeed the province in a calculated display.

Ballycran were the last team to inflict a championship loss on the Derry Champions in 2018 and despite a energetic start to the final, the Down champions could not sustain Slaughtneil’s overwhelming pressure.

Brendan Rogers hammered home a goal with 10 minutes to go but there never looked to be a shock on the cards such was Slaughtneil’s control on the decider.

With no semi final leading into the game, surprisingly Ballycran were right to the pitch of the game Stuart Martin drilling over a sideline for the opening score of the game. However that exuberance would fail them in front of the posts. 

With momentum on their side Ballycran failed to capitalise and shot five wides before the first half water break where they led 4-3. The margin should have been greater as Slaughtneil were using the quarter to get last week's semi final out of their legs.

Chrissy McKaigue landed a vital score and Cormac O’Doherty fired over his first of the game, a beauty from play to keep leggy Slaughtneil in the game.

From that point forward Michael McShane’s side played with a greater focus. Slaughtneil rattled off four in a row to make it 0-9 to 0-6 at half time. Ballycran’s Michael Hughes fired over their only score from play in the half right on Colm McDonald’s whistle.

Captain O’Doherty was again to the fore for his side with two free’s, he could be afforded to miss two in a row as Slaughtneil upped the ante. Karl McKaigue and Paul McNeill were exceptional at cornerback for the holders.

Ballycran midfielder Phelim Savage did reply with a free but at this stage it was pure Slaughtneil dominance.

Rogers whipped over a point from play before his tantalising goal after the second half water break.

The county footballer turned his marker Gerard Hughes and shipped a heavy hit from Michael Ennis to seal the game on the back of an outstanding run.

Jack Cassidy scored with his first touch from the bench to make it 1-14 to 0-7. Hughes picked up a second yellow card but Ballycran finished with supreme character, landing the game's final three points.

Captain Cormac O’Doherty picked up the early Christmas present for his remarkable community to enjoy, Slaughtneil's fourth Ulster title.

Scorers for Slaughtneil: Cormac O’Doherty 0-7 (6f), Brendan Rogers 1-1, Jerome McGuigan 0-2, Shane McGuigan 0-1, Christopher McKaigue 0-1, Sé McGuigan 0-1, Jack Cassidy 0-1.

Scorers for Ballycran: Phelim Savage 0-5 (5f), Stuart Martin 0-1 (1s/l), Conor Woods 0-2 (2f), Michael Hughes 0-1, Ben Arthurs 0-1.

SLAUGHTNEIL: Oisín O'Doherty, Karl McKaigue, Sean Cassidy, Paul McNeill; Conor McAllister, Shane McGuigan, Meehaul McGrath; Brendan Rodgers, Chrissy McKaigue; Mark McGuigan, Cormac O'Doherty, Brian Cassidy; Gerald Bradley; Jerome McGuigan, Sé McGuigan.

*Subs: *Jack Cassidy for J McGuigan (54), Shea Cassidy for Rogers (56), Gareth O’Kane for M McGuigan (61).

*BALLYCRAN: *Stephen Keith; Seán Ennis, Michael Ennis, Brad Watson, Gerard Hughes, Conor Woods, Brett Nicholson; Michael Hughes, Phelim Savage; Liam Savage, Stuart Martin, Niall Breen; James Clarke, Ben Arthurs, Christopher Egan.

*Subs: *Cormac McAlisterfor Breen (43) Scott Nicholson for Egan (47).

Referee: Colm McDonald (Antrim).