Na Piarsaigh 3-15 Slaughtneil 3-8
A stunning second half performance saw Na Piarsaigh outscore Slaughtneil 2-9 to 1-2 to book a place in the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s day.
The Limerick side were reduced to 13 players early in the first half with Conor Boylan and Tommy Grimes seeing red. But Ronan Lynch dragged them through with a man of the match performance hitting 0-14.
Slaughtneil captain Christopher McKaigue opened the scoring in the second minute before Lynch replied instantly, winning a break and dispatching his shot over the bar from 65 yards. Neither side could get ahead for long in the opening stages as Brian Cassidy and Cormac O'Doherty traded scores with Lynch.
Mark Bradley edged the Derry champions ahead in the 10th minute before Brendan Rodgers’ great footwork saw him pulled back by Mike Casey leaving the referee with no choice but to award a penalty. Cormac O’Doherty stepped up and sent a rasping effort into the roof of the net giving his side a four point lead.
The Limerick side responded with a close range Lynch free before Conor Boylan rounded his marker and rattled the top corner of the net, restoring parity.
Michael McShane's side needed a response of their own and that's exactly what they got with Meehaul McGrath firing over from sixty yards. Rodgers claimed the next puck-out beating two men before playing in Cassidy who shot across the keeper rattling the top left hand corner of the net. The Ulster champions leading 2-6 to 1-6 at the break - forcing Shane O'Neill to spring Shane Dowling from the bench in a change which had the desired effect.
It would prove to be a real game of two halves as the Munster champions hit 1-5 without reply to open the second half. Lynch displayed a deadeye from frees as Grimes and Boylan saw red before Dowling and Kevin Downes combined for the latter to hit the net.
Rodgers replied for the Derry side before Na Piarsaigh got a penalty of their own but Lynch’s effort was saved by Oisin O’Doherty.
In the 51st minute Dowling produced a moment of individual magic to block O’Doherty’s clearance swiping it off his hurl before flicking the ball over the ‘keeper’s head and sending a rasping effort into the net.
Cassidy then got a mere consolation goal for the Derry men firing low into the net before Lynch put the icing on the cake with an eye catching score.
Na Piarsaigh march on to the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s day running out 3-15 to 3-8 winners.
Slaughtneil: Oisin O'Doherty, Paul McNeil, Séan Cassidy, Karl McKaigue, Shane McGuigan, Meehaul McGrath (0-1), Cormac McKenna, Éanna Cassidy, Conor McAllister, Christopher McKaigue (0-1), Brendan Rodgers (0-1), Gerald Bradley (0-1), Cormac O'Doherty (1-2 2f), Mark McGuigan (0-1), Brian Cassidy (1-2).
Subs: Gareth O’Kane for Conor McAlister (50).
Na Piarsaigh: Podge Kennedy, Jerome Boylan, Mike Casey, Niall Buckley, Alan Dempsey, Cathal King, Tommy Grimes, Ronan Lynch (0-14 10f 1 65'), William O'Donoghue, Adrian Breen, David Breen, David Dempsey, Conor Boylan (1-0), Kevin Downes (1-0), Peter Casey (0-1).
Subs: Shane Dowling (1-0) for Adrian Breen (HT), Kevin Ryan for David Breen (54), Kieran Kennedy for David Dempsey.
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)