Slaughtneil (Derry) 1-18 Dunloy (Antrim) 0-14
It’s a fifth Ulster final in the last six years of it being staged for Slaughtneil, who were full value for this win over a Dunloy team that had been - if not fancied handsomely - certainly felt to be mature enough to reverse their recent defeats to the Derry outfit.
In the end, they proved nothing of the sort as Slaughtneil’s manic desire showed up once again.
They face Down’s Ballycran in the decider. When the two met in 2018, it wasn’t that Slaughtneil underestimated their opponents, but got a tremendous beating all the same in Corrigan Park. The final is to be played there again and they will be ready for it.
Dunloy tried to change things up from previous meetings, putting Seán Elliott in midfield to try and run Chrissy McKaigue for one. But on a rotten night with the wind howling under the floodlights, the mixer was the only place for the ball. Dunloy caressed and passed all evening and it brought nothing but trouble.
Seven consecutive points either side of the first water break gave Slaughtneil a wonderful platform, Cormac O’Doherty assured and with the benefit of a big wind.
Dunloy narrowed that gap to three at the break, and further again to a point at the start of the second half.
A Brendan Rogers haul of 1-2 from four minutes directly after that was enough to give Dunloy too much work to get through, Slaughtneil actually finishing the game so strong they landed the last three scores of the contest.
Slaughtneil: O O'Doherty; K McKaigue, S Cassidy, P McNeill; Shane McGuigan (0-1), C McAllister, M McGrath (0-3); G Bradley, C McKaigue (0-1); M McGuigan, C O'Doherty (0-7, seven frees), B Rogers (1-4); Sé McGuigan, J McGuigan, B Cassidy (0-1).
Subs: J Cassidy (0-1) for B Cassidy (60 mins).
Dunloy: R Elliott; A Crawford, C McKinley, C Kinsella; R Molloy, N McKeague, R McGarry; P Shiels (0-2), Keelan Molloy (0-1); E O'Neill (0-2), Kevin Molloy (0-1), D Smith (0-1); E Smyth, C Cunning (0-6, five frees, one 65), S Elliott (0-1).
Subs: C McMahon for N McKeague ( 24 mins), S Dooey for D Smith ( 49)
Referee: James Connors (Donegal).