By Francis Mooney
Slaughneil 1-10 Omagh 1-9
Christopher Bradley sent a glorious winner sailing between the posts in stoppage time to give Slaughtneil their first ever Ulster Club SFC title in a dramatic and pulsating Athletic Grounds decider.
The Derry men displayed enormous courage to fight their way back into the game after Omagh had gone four points clear early in the second half.
Heroic defensive resilience and immense commitment won it in the end for Mickey Moran’s side, who had plundered an early goal, but lost their way for most of the first half.
This was an absorbing decider, in doubt right to the end, and it looked like it was heading for extra-time, before Bradley nailed his fourth point of the afternoon.
Slaughtneil got off to a dream start, Cormac O’Doherty getting in behind his marker to collect Padrig Kelly’s long ball and rifle a low shot to the net.
Omagh displayed composure to play their way into the game gradually, and after the early supremacy of Patsy Bradley and Paudie McGuigan at mdfield, Joe McMahon and Conan Grugan began to get a foothold.
And with Jason McAnulla and Aaron Grugan proving a valuable source of second phase possession, they soon became a major attacking threat.
Ronan O’Neill dropped deep to take up a creative role, and it was Conot O’Donnell who flashed over their first two points.
The Derry men kept their noses in front through Christopher Bradley and Gerald Bradley, but the final ten minutes of the opening half belonged to Omagh.
Corner back Hugh Gallagher pushed forward to shoot a point, and it was McMahon who brought the sides level.
And in the 28th minute, Conan Grugan sliced through the Slaughtneil defence, slipped the ball to Barry Tierney, and the centre back smashed the ball to the roof of the net.
Omagh led by 1-5 to 1-2 at the interval, and Tierney was on target again to extend the advantage within seconds of the restart.
But with Patsy Bradley fielding magnificently in the middle of the field, Slaughtneil turned the game back in their favour and hit three points on the spin.
Barry McGuigan, Cormac O’Doherty and Ronan Bradley all split the posts as they narrowed the gap to a single point.
Once again, Omagh swung the balance back in their favour, and restored their three points advantage when Ronan O’Neill converted a free, after all 13 previous scores had come from play.
Cormac O’Neill was also on target, before the inevitable Slaughtneil response saw Paul Bradley and Christopher Bradley nail points.
And it was goalscorer O’Doherty who brought the sides level in the 48th minute, as Slaughtneil closed up shop at the back with some heroic defending, particularly from skipper Francis McEldowney and Conan Cassidy.
They held their opponents to a single point in the final quarter, and struck at the death, with Christopher Cassidy taking aim from distance to send a superb winner sailing between the posts.
Slaughtneil: A McMullan, C Cassidy, F McEldowney, K McKague, B Rodgers, C McKaigue, B McGuigan (0-1), Patsy Bradley, P McGuigan, P Kelly, C Bradley (0-4), R Bradley (0-1), G Bradley (0-1), P Bradley (0-1, f), C O’Doherty (1-2).
Subs: P Cassidy for Kelly, P McNeill for Rodgers, S McGuigan for R Bradley
Omagh: R Clarke, H Gallagher (0-1), Justin McMahon, S Mullan, C McLaughlin, B Tierney (1-1), C McMahon, Joe McMahon (0-1), C Grugan, A Grugan (0-1), J McAnulla, C O’Neill (0-1), C O’Donnell (0-2), R O’Neill (0-2, 2f), C Meyler.
Subs: J Colton for O’Donnell, C Clarke for C O’Neill, D Kerr for McLaughlin
Referee: C Branagan (Down).