Portaferry was no match for Slaughtneil at Corrigan Park as the reigning provincial champions ran out of easy winners in their Ulster SHC semi-final clash in Belfast on Sunday.
With both teams inactive for the previous six weeks, it was the Down champions who started the best, but by the third quarter the Derry men had gotten into a rhythm and their five-point interval lead was quickly widened to 10 at the restart. In the second half, Slaughtneil edged past the Ards men 2-14 to 0-6 as Ulster’s three chasers in a row arranged another meeting with Antrim champions Dunloy in two weeks’ time.
Slaughtneil never gave Portaferry’s forwards even a chance on goal. The good news for the Emmets was the return of Sean Cassidy for his first post-injury appearance of the season. Lacking game practice, he broke through at halftime, but still showed in the first half what his team had been missing. Facing the defence, Shane McGuigan and captain Cormac O’Doherty dominated midfield once they shook off the early rust as they attacked, Sean Cassidy had the game of the life of him scoring 1-07.
Cormac O’Doherty and Brian Cassidy were sublime at times in this one-sided semi-final. Cassidy’s latest sidecut was the icing on the cake after a nifty display. Sean Cassidy got the first of two second half goals for Mickey McShane’s team along with substitute Jerome McGuigan.
Conor O’Prey entered the side in the forward wing position and opened up an early lead for Portaferry, which also paid off, but Finn Turpin whizzed past a beauty from the touchline to shake Slaughtneil out of his slumber.
O’Doherty then got down to business with continuous free-kick accuracy, and the shooter would finish with nine all. With 10 minutes remaining in the half, it all clicked for the Derry champions. Cassidy went above three points as Slaughtneil led by double scores, 0-10 to 0-05, at halftime.
Slaughtneil ended the match shortly after the restart. Portaferry goalkeeper Pearse Smyth was unlucky as his excellent save from a low shot from Shéa Cassidy bounced back to Cassidy for a simple finish.
With O’Doherty topping the Derry men’s tally, O’Prey tried the other end to no avail, but it was the luxury of Jerome McGuigan’s goal from the bench that further showcased the strength in depth manager Mickey McShane has. to offer before a salivating mouth. Ulster final on December 4.
Ferry porter: Pearse Smyth; Darragh Mallon, Tom Murray, Ronan Smyth; Barry Trainor, Caolan Taggart, Emmett O’Neill; Matthew Conlan, Shane Conlan; Finn Turpin 0-02, Connor Mageen, Conor O’Prey 0-04 (0-01f); Tom McGrattan 0-02, Daithi Sands 0-01, Ronan Blair 0-02 (0-02f). Substitutes: Conor Fay for Blair (47), Padraig Doran for S Conlan (51), Ciaran Savage for Smyth (54), Niall Milligan for McGrattan (57).
Slaughtneil: Oisin O’Doherty; Paul McNeill, Chrissy McKaigue, Karl McKaigue; Sean Cassidy, Meehaul McGrath, Conor McAllister; Shane McGuigan 0-04, Cormac O’Doherty 0-09 (0-09f); Peter McCullagh 0-01, Brendan Rogers 0-03, Ruairí Ó’Mianáin; Brian Cassidy 1-07 (0-2f), Be McGuigan, Shéa Cassidy. Substitutes: Seán Ó’Caiside for S Cassidy (ht), Jerome McGuigan 1-00 for Sé McGuigan (43), Gerald Bradley for Shéa Cassidy (43), Mark McGuigan for Ó’Mianáin (47), Eamon Cassidy for Meehaul McGrath ( 58).
Referee: Colm McDonald (Antrim)