Ulster Club Senior Hurling Championship final
Cushendall 0-20 Slaughtneil 2-10

CUSHENDALL are Ulster Club hurling champions once again as they secured their first provincial crown since 2018 with a deserved victory over Slaughtneil in Newry on Sunday.

The four-point margin does not tell the full tale of this game as the Ruairis dominated the majority of the game aside from a 10-minute spell in the opening half and then late on when the Derry champions fought back, but were ultimately repelled by the Glensmen who now move into an All-Ireland semi-final. 

They were simply better throughout the field with Ed McQuillan picking up the man-of-the-match award with four points, Paddy Burke and Eoghan Campbell producing big displays and Ryan McCambridge seemingly in the right place at the right time throughout as they got their hands back on the Four Seasons Cup.

Brian Delargy's men were much improved from their semi-final win over Portaferry that required extra-time a fortnight back and perhaps that game stood to them with Slaughtneil waiting in the wings for 77 days since their county final.

"It's a good problem to have," Delargy said of the quick turnaround ahead of that All-Ireland semi-final.

"We are kings of Ulster again and we'll enjoy tonight. Knowing the boys they are, they'll be in the sea tomorrow recovering and we'll be back on the pitch on Wednesday.

"It's brilliant to be back on the All-Ireland stage and one of the best teams in the country."

Eoghan Campbell thumped Cushendall into an early lead and although Cormac O'Doherty responded with a free, it was the Antrim champions who were ing the early ascendency with Ed McQuillan hitting the first of his three opening half scores and Neil McManus landing a pair of frees.

But Slaughtneil would work their way into the game with Brendan Rogers and Mark McGuigan on target, while a pair of O'Doherty frees would nudge them ahead.

It would get even better on 20 minutes when O'Doherty cut out a Campbell hand-pass, popped into Shane McGuigan who in turn put Eamon Cassidy in and the wing-forward cracked low to the net.

Cushendall responded fantastically with a McManus 65, followed by points from Ronan McAteer, McQuillan and Jospeh McLaughlin to level and although O'Doherty edged the Derry men back in front, late scores from McManus and McQuillan had Cushendall 0-10 to 1-6 up by the short whistle.

They picked up where they left off after the break with the next five points through Ronan McAteer, McLaughlin, McManus, McQuillan and then another from a piece of McManus magic.

Slaughtneil just couldn't get anything going in attack with the Cushendall defence watertight in the third quarter and it took until 17 minutes into the second period before they scored through Sé McGuigan.

Paddy Burke is challenged by Brendan Rogers

Paddy Burke is challenged by Brendan Rogers

Points from McManus and Fergus McCambridge followed with the gap aout to seven before Slaughtneil finally raised a gallop with Shéa Cassidy weaving in and cracking home followed by a Shane McGuigan point with a gap down to three.

Cushendall steadied with McManus nailing a free and then Scott Walsh launched over a beauty from deep to ease their nerves.

The gap was a goal again as Peter McCullagh and Shane McGuigan pointed as the game moved into stoppage time, but it was teenager Joseph McLaughlin there to punish a mistake to hit the insurance score as Cushendall set up an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny's O'Loughlin Gaels in a fortnight.

CUSHENDALL: C McAlister, P Burke, L Gillan, M Burke, S Walsh (0-1), E Campbell (0-1), R McCollam, F McCurry, R McCambridge, R McAteer (0-2), N McManus (0-8, 6f, 1 65), F McCambridge (0-1), E McQuillan (0-4), N McCormack, J McLaughlin (0-3).
Subs: Alex Delargy for N McCormack (49)

SLAUGHTNEIL: O O’Doherty, P McNeill, S Cassidy, Sé McGuigan (0-1), C McKaigue, R Ó Mianáin, M McGrath, J Cassidy, B Rogers (0-1), G Bradley, M McGuigan (0-1), E Cassidy (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-2), C O’Doherty (0-4, all frees), K McKaigue.
Subs: Shéa Cassidy (1-0) for G Bradley (21), J McGuigan for E Cassidy (41), P McCullagh (0-1) for M McGuigan (49)

REFEREE: James Clarke (Cavan)