AIB Ulster Senior Football Club Championship Quarter-final
Slaughtneil 0-10, Omagh St Enda's 0-08
Slaughtneil will meet the winners of Scotstown and Kilcar in the Ulster Club Championship semi-final after seeing off Omagh St Enda's in front of 3,447 spectators at a blustery Celtic Park on Saturday evening.
Leading 0-6 to 0-5 at the break, having had the benefit of the elements in the opening 30 minutes, Shane McGuigan crucially grabbed the opening two points of the second period from frees after Barry Tierney had missed a gilt edged goal chance for Omagh within seconds of the restart.
It was the winning of a tense match in difficult conditions.
Tierney's opportunity, brought about by a superb surging run from Conor Meyler, would have put Omagh into a lead they never quite managed and despite losing Chrissy McKaigue to a 43rd black card, the reigning Ulster champions used all their experience to control the final quarter with a minimum of fuss.
The Emmet's started with the breeze, if not behind them, certainly gaining more of an advantage from it than the visitors.
Omagh set up with Conor Meyler patrolling the centre half back line, sweeping when he had to and rarely venturing too far forward. With Paul Bradley not fit to start for Slaughtneil Paudie McGuigan came in to start but the Derry champions missed Bradley's link play and his ability to pick out passes.
St. Enda's were holding a disciplined shape, designed to frustrate Slaughtneil but Mickey Moran's men still had plenty of chances. The first half problem was they were unable to take them as 10 wides in the opening 30 minutes illustrated.
Against that wastefulness, Omagh were efficient. Eight first half shots, three wides but crucially five points.
The visitors' forwards were doing sterling work for their side with any ball played in to them, especially Ronan O'Neill, whose ability to win and hold possession proved a vital outlet for Paddy Crozier's men against the elements.
Despite their inability to turn possession into points, Slaughtneil still managed to fashion a 0-4 to no score lead by the 12th minute but even then, only Christopher 'Sammy' Bradley and Cormac O'Doherty looked at their sharpest.
'Sammy' got the game's first point with a brilliant 'take and turn' that caught Barry Tierney on his heels. It was quickly followed by a lovely Paudie Cassidy scores and when Shane McGuigan, from a free, and Bradley with a second superb score increased the lead to four points.
Yet, the lingering doubt from a Derry perspective was Slaughtneil's shot selection was was rushed in the first half.
Omagh to their credit grew into the game as the half wore on with Connor O'Donnell especially impressive and giving Brendan Rogers a difficult evening.
Points from O'Donnell, Hugh Gallagher, storming forward from full back and Conan Grugan brought it back to 0-4 to 0-3 but each time Omagh came within striking distance, Slaughtneil managed to get the next score.
A Christopher Bradley free was responded to by Ciaran McLaughlin before a brilliant Conor Clarke point tied the game at 0-5 a-piece.
Omagh were in the ascendancy but Cormac O'Doherty ability to get out in front and win ball engineered a vital point for Se McGuigan on the stroke of half-time though the single point interval lead looked insecure at best.
That complexion changed with the Tierney missed chance and the two McGuigan frees upon the restart. Threes points up Slaughtneil slipped into game management mode and there is no one better when in front.
Thier one moment of panic came with McKaigue's black card. a superb Omagh move looked to have set Grugan through on goal. McKaigue couldn't let him pass and the black card which followed was inevitable. With Ronan O'Neill scoring the free to make it 0-8 to 0-7, this would be a major test of Slaughtneil without both McKaigue and Paul Bradley.
They passed with flying colours.
Each time, Omagh pressed, Slaughtneil sprang forward, Meehaul McGrath and Paudie Cassidy getting through a trojan amount of work. At 0-9 to 0-8, Omagh were well in the game but eight second half wides put pay to their hopes.
A late black card for Tierney only highlighted the Omagh frustration in a game that confirmed Slaughtneil remain the team to beat in Ulster.
Slaughtneil: Antoin McMullan; Paul McNeil, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue; Francis McEldowney, Christopher McKaigue, Keelan Feeney; Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy (0-1); Shane McGuigan (0-4, 4f), Padraig McGuigan, Meehaul McGrath; Cormac O'Doherty, Se McGuigan (0-1), Christopher Bradley (0-4, 2f).
(Subs) Barry McGuigan for C McKaigue (Black Card), 43mins; Ronan Bradley for P McGuigan, 45mins; Brian Cassidy for R Bradley (inj), 59mins
Back Card: Chrissy McKaigue
Omagh St Enda's: Niall McGinn; Gregory Murray, Hugh Gallagher (0-1), Stephen Mullan; Ciaran McLaughlin (0-1), Jospeph McMahon (0-1, 1 forty-five), Barry Tierney; Conor Clarke (0-1), Micheal Gallagher; Turlough Gallagher, Conan Grugan (0-1, 1f), Ronan O'Neill (0-1, 1f); Cormac O'Neill, Connor O'Donnell (0-2), Conor Meyler.
(Subs) Jason McAnnulla for T Gallagher, 40mins; Justin McMahon for C Clarke, 49mins;
Black Card: Barry Tierney, 65mins.
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).