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Shane McGuigan (Right) and Karl McKaigue lift the John McLaughlin Cup following Slaughtneil’s victory in today’s O’Neills Derry SFC Final. 
Shane McGuigan (Right) and Karl McKaigue lift the John McLaughlin Cup following Slaughtneil’s victory in today’s O’Neills Derry SFC Final. 

Derry SFC Final: Slaughtneil back on top after dethroning Magherafelt

Derry Senior Football Championship Final


By Steven Doherty at Bellaghy

Slaughtneil completed a football and hurling double lifting the John McLaughlin Cup for the first time since 2017 with a four point victory over Magherafelt at Bellaghy.

Chrissy McKaigue produced a man of the match performance for the winners, while free-taker Christopher Bradley top scored with three points.

Wintry conditions and a heavy Wolfe Tones pitch, which had just hosted the Intermediate final, welcomed the two best teams in Derry to duel for the county title.

Reigning champions Magherafelt, with their water tight defensive system, arrived at Bellaghy slight underdogs to a Slaughtneil side, so impressive in their dismantling of Ballinderry in the semi-final last week, and hungry for success after two barren footballing years.

The first half was a cagey affair and one to forget. The holders, as they’ve done all season, pulled all fifteen men behind the ball and asked Slaughtneil to find the keys to unlock them. The experienced Emmets held their nerve throughout, patiently probing for the slightest chink in the Rossas armoury. They led 0-3 to 0-1 by the water break on 21 minutes. A Christopher Bradley free opened their account, which Conor McCluskey replied to for Magherafelt. A brace from Chrissy McKaigue, however, left the champions to play catch up for the remainder of the contest.

Conor Kearns and Conor McAllister swapped point to leave the scoreboard reading 0-4 to 0-2 at half-time.

The second half, with Magherafelt forced to abandon their defensive shell somewhat, was better fare. Slaughtneil exploited the extra space and stretched their lead to 0-7 to 0-2, with Shane McGuigan, Francis McEldowney and Brendan Rogers all on target.

But just as Paul Bradley’s side threatened to snuff out Magherafelt’s challenge, a thundering goal from Jared Monaghan dragged the Rossas back into contention in the 40th minute. A Shane Heavron free made it a two point game before points from McGuigan and Christopher Bradley once again held Magherafelt at arm’s length.

With the clock in the red, the Rossas needed goals. Conor Kearns and Antonne McElhone both saw late shots blocked before substitute Ronan Bradley fisted over to confirm Slaughtneil Derry champions.

Scorers for Slaughtneil: Christopher Bradley 0-3 (0-3fs), Shane McGuigan 0-2 (0-1f), Christopher McKaigue 0-2, Conor McAllister 0-1, Francis McEldowney 0-1, Brendan Rogers 0-1, Ronan Bradley 0-1

Scorers for Magherafelt: Jared Monaghan 1-0, Conor Kearns 0-2, Conor McCluskey 0-1, Shane Heavron 0-1 (0-1f)

SLAUGHTNEIL: Anton McMullan, Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers, Conor McAllister, Francis McEldowney, Christopher McKaigue, Keelan Feeney, Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy, Sean Cassidy, Cormac O’Doherty, Meehaul McGrath, Christopher Bradley, Shane McGuigan, Brian Cassidy. Subs: Paedar Kearney for C McAllister (H/T), Ronan Bradley for S Cassidy (58)

MAGHERAFELT: Odhran Lynch, Simon McErlain, Darren O’Neill, Guisseppe Lupari, Conor McCluskey, Fergal Duffin, Conor Kearns, Jared Monaghan, Daniel Heavron, Patrick McLarnon, Shane Heavron, John Young, Michael McEvoy, Emmett McGuckin, Ryan Ferris. Subs: Peter Quinn for D O’Neill (50), Declan Martin for G Lupari (55), Antonne McElhone for R Ferris (59)

*Referee: *Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy)