ULSTER SENIOR CLUB FOOTBALL FINAL: SLAUGHTNEIL 1-10 OMAGH 1-9
After an heroic Ulster final performance, St. Enda’s championship campaign for 2014 came to an agonising conclusion at the Armagh Athletic Grounds when Derry champions Slaughtneil scored an injury time point to win the game on the scoreline of 1-10 to 1-9.
While the defeat is disappointing, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this was such a wonderful journey culminating in our first county final win in 26 years. Take a bow boys, you did yourselves, your families and your club proud. Naomh Éanna Ábu
Match report by Orla Bannon..
An injury-time point from Christopher Bradley earned a first Ulster club SFC title for Slaughtneil, who came from four points behind to snatch a heroic victory in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday.
Omagh had led by 1-5 to 1-2 at half-time, and goalscorer Barry Tierney pushed their lead out to four points 20 seconds after the interval. However the Derry champions were vastly improved in the second half, with county midfielder Patsy in inspirational form, and they drew level at 1-8 apiece with a point from first-half goalscorer Cormac O’Doherty after 47 minutes.
Christopher Bradley, who kicked 0-4 from play, put Slaughtneil ahead two minutes later. Both first-time finalists grew increasingly edgy in the closing stages as the finishing line drew close and Ronan O’Neill’s 35m free drew Omagh level again with four minutes to go.
Extra-time loomed but a controversial decision by referee Cormac Branagan to wave away a push in the back on Jason McAnulla resulted in Slaughtneil breaking down the field, with Bradley’s long-range point in the second minute of injury time snatching victory for the Derry side.
Omagh had mounted some stirring comebacks on route to the Ulster decider but there was no time to mount a response this time. Slaughtneil began the game as well as they ended it, with a dream start with a goal from Cormac O’Doherty after just 50 seconds before the Omagh defence had a chance to settle.
A long, high ball from Padraig Kelly was well caught by O’Doherty, who beat his marker Hugh Gallagher in the air, and turned to slip the ball beyond goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. The Derry champions were the better side in the opening ten minutes but Omagh, on limited possession, battled with points from lively corner-forward Conor O’Donnell in the fourth and eighth minutes.
A stylish long-range left-footed score from Christopher Bradley helped Slaughtneil lead by 1-1 to 0-2. There was no score for the next ten minutes with both teams dropping men back and making it difficult for both forward lines. Omagh were now the dominant team but hit a few wides before Aaron Grugan hit a superb point from distance after 18 minutes.
Gerald Bradley responded for Slaughtneil in the 20th minute, but that was their last score of the half as Omagh hit an unanswered 1-2 before the break. Hugh Gallagher came up from defence to hit a captain’s point before Joe McMahon, who was in the wars in a bruising midfield battle with Derry midfielder Patsy Bradley, kicked another point to draw Omagh level for the first time after 25 minutes.
With Omagh now playing with a lot of confidence, they burst forward again with Conan Grugan driving through the centre of the Slaughtneil defence. He spotted Barry Tierney running on his shoulder and passed to the Tyrone defender who unleashed a superb shot into the far corner of the net leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Having trailed to the early goal, Omagh led by 1-5 to 1-2 at the break having also hit seven wides in the opening period. Slaughtneil were the much more clinical side only hitting two wides compared to Omagh’s eight, and the Tyrone side also dropped a number of efforts short into the goalkeeper’s hands and they were left to rue their wastefulness.
Slaughtneil Scorers: C O’Doherty 1-2, C Bradley 0-4, G Bradley 0-1, R Bradley 0-1, B McGuigan 0-1, P Bradley 0-1 (f)
Omagh scorers: B Tierney 1-1, C O’Donnell 0-2, R O’Neill 0-2 (2f), A Grugan 0-1, Joe McMahon 0-1, C O’Neill 0-1, H Gallagher 0-1
SLAUGHTNEIL: A McMullan; C Cassidy, K McKaigue, B Rogers; F McEldowney, C McKaigue, B McGuigan; Patsy Bradley, P McGuigan; P Kelly, C Bradley, R Bradley; G Bradley, Paul Bradley, C O’Doherty. Subs: P Cassidy for Kelly (40), P McNeill for Rogers (42), S McGuigan for R Bradley (47)
OMAGH ST ENDA’S: R Clarke; H Gallagher, Justin McMahon, S Mullan; C McLaughlin, B Tierney, C McMahon; Joe McMahon, C Grugan; A Grugan, J McAnulla, C O’Neill; C O’Donnell, R O’Neill, C Meyler. Subs: J Colton for O’Donnell (49), C Clarke for C O’Neill (54), D Kerr for McLaughlin (60)
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)