by John McIlwaine
McAuley Cup – Senior Hurling
Loughgiel 3-21 Slaughtneil 3-11
Loughgiel booked their place in the final of the McAuley Cup at the Armoy tournament when they beat Derry champions Slaughtneil by 3-21 to 3-11 .
In a game that was highly competitive throughout the Shamrocks finally got on top of their opponents in the final ten minutes, outscoring them by 8 points to 1 to secure a final spot against old rivals Dunloy. However for a good part of the match there was little to choose between the sides and both managers will be glad of such a competitive workout as preparations with championship not too far away.
Fielding without five of their starting fifteen, because of Derry’s upcoming All Ireland qualifier against Mayo next weekend, Slaughtneill fell behind to an early Benny McCarry point but points from Gareth O’Kane and Gerard Bradley edged the Derry men ahead. Loughgiel were soon level thanks to a point from Donal McKinley but a goal from a penalty by Slaughtneil goalkeeper Osin Doherty and one from play by Gerard Bradley put the Derry champions five clear after fourteen minutes. The whole tempo of the game rose as Loughgiel worked their way back into the match and a cracking goal by corner forward Dan McCloskey helped send his team in level at the break at 2-5 to 1-8.
When a James McNaughton free went all the way to the Slaughtneill net two minutes into the second half the Shamrocks took control and five points on the trot, plus a second goal from Dan McCloskey appeared to have sealed the win. However Slaughtneill fought back, despite being reduced to fourteen men and a goal and three points in a seven minute spell midway through the half brought them back to within three. That was as close as they would get however as Loughgiel dominated the final ten minutes as they added some quality scores to run out winners by ten.
DD Quinn, Paul Gillan, Neilly McGarry, Odhran McCloskey, Declan Gillan, Damon McMcMullan, Odhran McFadden, Mark McFadden, Tony McCloskey, Barney McAuley, Eddie McCloskey, James McNaughton, Dan McCloskey, Benny McCarry, Donal McKinley
Oisin Doherty, Ruairi McCartney, Dean Cassidy, Brian Og Corbett, Meehaul McGrath, Paul McNeill, Padraig Kelly, Gerard Bradley, Conor McAllister, Gareth O’Kane, Mark McGuigan, Séan Cassidy, Proncius Burke, Shay McGuigan, Carmac McKenna
Referee – Mark O’Neill (Armoy)