Loughgiel make it four-in-a-row of Ulster hurling titles
But Antrim kingpins have to work hard to see off gallant Slaughtneil
Loughgiel’s Eddie McCloskey celebrates scoring a goal against Slaughtneil in the Ulster club hurling final at Celtic Park. Photograph: John McIlwaine/Inpho
Loughgiel 3-14 Slaughtneil 1-15
It was almost, almost the most seismic of shocks.
Loughgiel, the unbackable favourites to win a fourth Ulster title in a row at 1/50 with the bookies, did achieve it but only after they had to claw their way back from eight behind against a gallant Slaughtneil side.
The Derry champions’ brilliant start was copper-fastened when centre-back Cormac McKenna d fired to the roof of the net from a 21-metre free, helping them into a 1-6 to 0-1 lead.
But Eddie McCloskey stepped up for the Antrim champions. His first goal was a piece of individual brilliance as he cut in along the endline and fired an unstoppable shot into the net from a tight angle.
His second finished off a brilliant move that saw Shea Casey slip him in with a handpass and McCloskey ran clear to fire home and make it 1-8 to 2-2.
Brendan Rogers then had a goal controversially disallowed for Slaughtneil but they finished the half strongly, registering three of the last four scores to go in 1-11 to 2-4 ahead.
Loughgiel championship debutant Chris O’Connell brilliantly turned away Cormac McKenna’s penalty when Slaughtneil led by 1-11 to 2-6.
Almost instantly, Loughgiel netted for the third time when Benny McCarry set up Shea Casey, who fired low past the onrushing Eoin McGuigan.
Slaughtneil paid the price in the end for failing to score from play in the second half.
LOUGHGIEL: C O’Connell; P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey; T Coyle, M Scullion, O McFadden; M McFadden, T McCloskey (0-1); B McAuley (0-2), D Laverty (0-1), E McCloskey (2-2); B McCarry (0-1), S Casey (1-0), L Watson (0-7, 0-6f). Subs: D McCloskey for Coyle (46 ).
SLAUGHTNEIL: E McGuigan; K McKaigue, P Kearney, C Kearney; S Cassidy, C McKenna (1-3, 1-2f), J Mulholland; G Bradley (0-2), C McKaigue (0-4, 0-1f); G O’Kane (0-6f), C O’Doherty; O O’Doherty, B Rogers, S McGuigan. Subs: B Óg Corbett for C Kearney (28 mins), E Cassidy for D Kearney (36 mins), F Kelly for Rogers (53 mins).