Late Carey point sees Coleraine force Slaughtneil replay

Richard Carey's point secured Eoghan Rua a draw with Slaughtneil at Owenbeg on Sunday evening.
Richard Carey's point secured Eoghan Rua a draw with Slaughtneil at Owenbeg on Sunday evening.

O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship Semi-final

Slaughtneil 0-15, Coleraine 1-12

He remains the only Coleraine man to lift the John McLaughlin Cup and on Sunday Richard Carey emerged from the Eoghan Rua substitute's bench to ensured his side's dream of a second Derry Senior Championship title remains intact with a late point to hold Ulster champions Slaughtneil at Owenbeg.

Carey was introduced midway through the second half and while he applied the finishing touch to the move that ensured a replay, the point owed everything to the quick thinking of Sean Leo McGoldrick. So quick indeed that even Carey was caught unaware when his team mate spotted the chance as the clock ticked into injury time with Slaughtneil one to the good.

A quick roar from McGoldrick alerted Carey who switched on, gathered the short free, turned and kicked Coleraine to a midweek replay that will provides real headache for the county board with both Slaughtneil and Coleraine due at the County Hurling finals on Sunday (September 30th).

Still, a fixture headache is better than a championship exit and Eoghan Rua merited a second shot at the reigning champions.

Indeed Slaughtneil were forced to fight back from a 0-6 to 0-1 first half deficit and perhaps had Coleraine been slightly more adventurous at that point they could have established a lead Slaughtneil may not have been able to retrieve.

It was that type of game, one side in the ascendancy before yielding to pressure from the other but play always of the highest standard between two sides who know each other inside out.

Neither team registered a wide until the 22nd minute and there were only eight in the entire match. This was a proper clash of the Derry heavyweights and the winner of the replay will be correctly billed favourites for the title.

That's nothing new for Slaughtneil of course but Coleraine are the one side most pundits believed could run the Emmet's close and they showed exactly why in a brilliant opening 11 minutes.

Colm McGoldrick was a real handful throughout until an injury time black card and he grabbed his team's first point from a free but only after Shane McGuigan had split the posts within 20 seconds of throw-in.

The 10 minutes that followed was Coleraine at their best, Sean Leo McGoldrick and Niall Holly knitting play together as runners picked uncharacteristic holes in the Slaughtneil defensive set=up.

Points from Holly (2), Gavan McWilliams and Colm McGoldrick had the champions in real trouble, especially against a backline a notoriously frugal as Coleraine's.

But Slaughtneil are no ordinary champions and with a fifth successive Derry title potentially on the horizon, the Emmet's showed exactly why they are champions. Padraig Cassidy and Frank McEldowney led the assault, Cassidy driving at the heart of Coleraine as Christopher 'Sammy' Bradley, Cassidy, Shane McGuigan and Brian Cassidy brought the deficit back to one point with only 17 minutes on the clock.

Colm mcGoldrick extended the Coleraine advantage but three points from Padraig Cassidy, Jerome McGuigan and Cassidy again ensured a half-time lead that looked unlikely for long periods.

The champions' goal was lucky to survive when Antoin McMullan dropped a high Holly shot back towards his own goal only for Meehaul McGrath to appear and save on the line with the goal gaping.

the 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead lasted only one minute of the second half and again, Colm McGoldrick was the man to bring Coleraine level from another free.

There would never be more than two between the teams in a tense, tactical second half, Coleraine's decision to release Liam cmGoldrick to a more advanced role paying dividends as McGoldrick scored 1-01.

The goal arrived with Slaughtneil having established a two point lead for the second time in the half at 0-11 to 0-9. Gavan McWilliams took a shot that cannoned high off the post but superbly recycled by Colm McGoldrick who picked out Liam McGoldrick to finish with a lovely low finish.

It was notable however that every time Coleraine asked a question, Slaughtneil provided an answer and this time it came from the impressive Jerome McGuigan, in for the injured Patsy Bradley, with a lovely point.

Seconds later Christopher Bradley had the champions in front again but the game it's tit-for-tat finale, Slaughtneil leading, Coleraine pegging them back. It was a 'Sammy' Bradley free who had Slaughtneil on the verge of a semi-final against Ballinascreen until Carey's late intervention.

The sides will do it again this week, a headache for fixture makers but a nice bonus for football fans.

Slaughtneil scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-3), Christopher Bradley (0-5, 3f), Padraig Cassidy (0-2), Brian Cassidy (0-2), Jerome McGuigan (0-2), Chrissy McKaigue (0-1)

Coleraine scorers: Liam McGoldrick (1-1), Colm McGoldrick (0-4, 3f), Niall Holly (0-2), Gavan McWilliams (0-4, 3f), Richard Carey (0-1)

Slaughtneil: Antoin McMullan; Paul McNeill, Karl McKaigue, Conor McAllister; Francis McEldowney, Christopher McKaigue, Keelan Feeney; Jerome McGuigan, Padraig Cassidy; Ronan Bradley, Brian Cassidy; Meehaul McGrath, Christopher Bradley, Se McGuigan, Shane McGuigan.

(Subs) Brendan McEldowney for R Bradley, 52mins; Cormac O'Doherty for B Cassidy, 52mins; Barry McGuigan for Se McGuigan, 58mins;

Wides:First half - 1; Second half - 1

Yellow Cards: Karl McKaigue, 31mins; Shane McGuigan, 39mins; Meehaul McGrath, 44mins; Jermoe McGuigan 47mins;

Eoghan Rua, Coleraine: Ryan McGeough; Ciaran Lagan, Liam McGoldrick, Barry Daly; Ciaran Mullan, Barry MCGoldrick, Ciaran Lenehan; Niall Holly, Paul Daly; Ruairi Mooney, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Gavan McWilliams, Mark McTaggart, Colm McGoldrick, Ciaran McGoldrick.

(Subs) Richard Carey for M McTaggert, 44mins.

Wides: First half - 2; Second half - 4

Yellow Cards: Niall Holly, 40mins;

Black Cards: Colm McGoldrick, 62mins

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Bellaghy)