Ballinderry made it back to back Derry senior football titles as they held off a second half Slaughtneil fight back to win the John McLaughlin Cup for the sixth time in eleven seasons.
The Shamrocks, led by the inspirational Enda Muldoon held on for the win in spite of losing defender Raymond Wilson for two yellow cards with 17 minutes still to play.
Muldoon’s first half performance in particular was majestic winning possession in the middle third in imperious fashion and showing he still had the football brain the equal of any in the county with his distribution.
The game began in fairly even fashion with both teams trading scores.
Slaughtneil opened the scoring through Padraig Kelly before Ballinderry hit straight back with the Shamrock’s young guns Aaron Devlin and Ryan Bell on target with the game just a few minutes old, Bell’s effort an well struck effort from a narrow angle.
The teams again traded scores, Padraig Kelly with his second of the game on target before Shamrock’s midfielder James Conway pointed from distance.
Conway’s effort was cancelled out by Jim Kelly before the game took a dramatic twist.
Given the nature of the first 15 minutes, a goal was always going to be key and it was the Shamrocks who got the game’s decisive score.
Again Muldoon was involved picking out the lively Collie Devlin with a supreme 50 metre pass.
Devlin showed tremendous composure to side step Slaughtneil keeper Antoin McMullan and finish low to the back of the Emmet’s net.
Slaughtneil did respond almost immediately through Danny McMullan but Ballinderry has seized the initiative.
Raymond Wilkinson and Jim Kelly again traded scores before two efforts before half time from Conleth Gilligan and Aaron Devlin left the Shamrocks four points to the good at the break.
Martin McKinless’s side pushed on ruthlessly at the beginning of the second half with points from Martin Harney and county minor Ryan Bell to help them establish a six point cushion.
Damien Barton had made a number of positional changes to his Slaughtneil side at the break and they were beginning to pay dividends.
Chris McKaigue, moved onto Muldoon and Patsy Bradley became increasingly influential for the Emmets as they began to build some momentum.
Chris Bradley had shown excellent form throughout the championship and he began the fightback first from the placed ball and then with a sweetly struck effort from play to get Slaughtneil back into the contest.
Another Bradley free narrowed the gap to three before the game took another dramatic twist as the Shamrocks lost a man.
Ballinderry wing back Raymond Wilkinson had received his marching orders and the game took on a new complexion.
Slaughtneil got the games next two scores closing the gap to a mere point and appeared to be dictating the direction and pace of the game.
Ballinderry however used all their experience and guile to reassume control of the contest with Martin Harney winning a free in from of goal after another fantastic Muldoon pass.
Conleth Gilligan pointed the free to give the Shamrocks some breathing space before Gilligan again pointed from a free in the dying seconds of the game to give Ballinderry a deserved title.
The Shamrocks now advance to meet Tyrone champions Errigal Ciaran in the Ulster Club Championship in Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday 4th November.