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Eoghan Rua defeated Derry rivals Slaughtneil 1-9 to 1-4 in the Ulster Premier League Final yesterday, in the process becoming the first team outside Antrim to win the competition and adding the crown to their Derry Premier League title won last month.

Their fitness and their ability to take scores was a major factor in their victory, with Slaughtneil able to record only a solitary score from play.

For a club in only their second year playing at the highest level, it was a fairytale end to a season that began for Eoghan Rua in January under the Dubai sun.

The game was a rugged and occasionally tempestuous affair played on a very heavy pitch at Ballerin. The underfoot conditions made for some dogged close quarter exchanges.  

The game began at a frantic pace with Slaughtneil’s Mary Kelly and Eoghan Rua’s Grainne McGoldrick exchanging frees before Grace McMullan’s deft flick past Jolene Bradley put three between the sides. The Emmets responded with another Kelly free and a scrambled goal from Shauna McGuigan edged them ahead.

There was little in the game at this stage with both defences playing well. Helena Kelly marshalled the Slaughtneil backline expertly, with Grainne O’Kane in brilliant form beside her. For Eoghan Rua, Jane Carey and Hannah Eastwood defended ferociously, and keeper Amy Holmes made two fine saves.

As the late afternoon Autumn sun lowered, onfield affairs became increasingly heated. Slaughtneil midfielder Eilish Cassidy received an inevitable yellow card from referee Owen Elliott for a late tackle.

Eoghan Rua finished out the half the stronger team, pushing two points clear with a McGoldrick free and a well taken point by wing forward Claire Dillon, that followed good work from Grace McMullan and 14 year old Eilis McNamee. Grace ended the half with a further point and indeed narrowly missed a goal with a stunning overhead flick.

The second half began much as the first ended, with All Star Grainne McGoldrick tacking on two further scores, one a æ45′; the other a classy effort on the run. Although Mary Kelly replied with a æ45′, the momentum of the game had swung in Coleraine’s favour. As the intensity increased further, McGoldrick made her way into the referee’s notebook, whilst Eilish Cassidy received her second yellow and her marching orders for a wild pull on Hannah Eastwood.

With Meabh McGoldrick dropping off very effectively as the spare player, Slaughtneil had great difficulty in penetrating the Eoghan Rua defence where Maria Mooney was an increasing influence. Up front, 14 year-old corner forward Megan Kerr switched position to curb the threat of Grainne O’Kane and proceeded to land a beauty of a point for the Eoghan Rua. As the game hurtled towards its inevitable conclusion, Grainne McGoldrick sealed the result with a further point from play. Derry captain Claire Doherty led one final assault on the Eoghan Rua goal but her goalbound shot was magnificently blocked by Meabh McGoldrick.

Owen Elliot’s final whistle saw Eoghan Rua add the Ulster League crown to the Derry Premier League title won last month following their defeat of All Ireland finallists Lavey.

Scorers Eoghan Rua: Grainne McGoldrick 0-6 (3f, 1 æ45′); Grace McMullan 1-1; Claire Dillon 0-1; Megan Kerr 0-1.

Slaughtneil: Mary Kelly 0-4 (3f, 1’45’); Shauna McGuigan 1-0.





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