Ulster SHC final: Cushendall 0-20 Slaughtneil 2-10
Cushendall are Ulster club hurling champions once again as they secured their first provincial crown since 2018 with a deserved victory over Slaughtneil in Newry on Sunday.
The four-point margin does not tell the full tale of this game, however, as the Ruairis dominated the contest, aside from a 10-minute spell in the opening half and then late on when the Derry champions fought back. The Glensmen held them off and move into an All-Ireland semi-final.
They were simply better throughout the field with Ed McQuillan picking up the man-of-the-match award with four points, Paddy Burke and Eoghan Campbell producing big displays and Ryan McCambridge seemingly in the right place at the right time throughout as they got their hands back on the Four Seasons Cup.
Brian Delargy’s men were much improved from their semi-final win over Portaferry that required extra-time a fortnight back and perhaps that game stood to them with Slaughtneil waiting in the wings for 77 days since their county final.
Eoghan Campbell fired Cushendall into an early lead and although Cormac O’Doherty responded with a free, it was the Antrim champions who were in the early ascendency with Ed McQuillan hitting the first of his three opening half scores and Neil McManus landing a pair of frees.
But Slaughtneil would work their way into the game with Brendan Rogers and Mark McGuigan on target, while a pair of O’Doherty frees would nudge them ahead.
It would get even better on 20 minutes when O’Doherty cut out a Campbell hand pass, popped into Shane McGuigan who in turn put Eamon Cassidy in and the wing forward cracked low to the net.
Cushendall responded fantastically with a McManus 65, followed by points from Ronan McAteer, McQuillan and Joseph McLaughlin to level and although O’Doherty edged the Derry men back in front, late scores from McManus and McQuillan had Cushendall 0-10 to 1-6 up by the short whistle.
Cushendall picked up where they left off after the break with the next five points through Ronan McAteer, McLaughlin, McManus, McQuillan and then another from a piece of McManus magic.
Slaughtneil just couldn’t get anything going in attack with the Cushendall defence watertight in the third quarter and it took until 17 minutes into the second period before they scored through Sé McGuigan.
Points from McManus and Fergus McCambridge followed with the gap out to seven before Slaughtneil finally raised a gallop with Shéa Cassidy weaving in and cracking home followed by a Shane McGuigan point with a gap down to three.
Cushendall steadied with McManus nailing a free and then Scott Walsh launched over a beauty from deep to ease their nerves.
The gap was a goal again as Peter McCullagh and Shane McGuigan pointed as the game moved into stoppage time, but it was teenager Joseph McLaughlin there to punish a mistake to hit the insurance score as Cushendall set up an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny’s O’Loughlin Gaels in a fortnight.
Cushendall: C McAlister, P Burke, L Gillan, M Burke, S Walsh (0-1), E Campbell (0-1), R McCollam, F McCurry, R McCambridge, R McAteer (0-2), N McManus (0-8, six frees, one 65), F McCambridge (0-1), E McQuillan (0-4), N McCormack, J McLaughlin (0-3). Subs: Alex Delargy for N McCormack (49)
Slaughtneil: O O’Doherty, P McNeill, S Cassidy, Sé McGuigan (0-1), C McKaigue, R Ó Mianáin, M McGrath, J Cassidy, B Rogers (0-1), G Bradley, M McGuigan (0-1), E Cassidy (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-2), C O’Doherty (0-4, all frees), K McKaigue. Subs: Shéa Cassidy (1-0) for G Bradley (21), J McGuigan for E Cassidy (41), P McCullagh (0-1) for M McGuigan (49)
Referee: James Clarke (Cavan)
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