Slaughtneil become first Derry team to win Ulster Club Hurling title
Slaughtneil became the first Derry team to win the Ulster Club Hurling title as they overcame Loughgiel 2-14 to 1-13.
Cormac O'Doherty hit 1-9 for Slaughtneil at Armagh but even his display was bettered by captain Chrissy McKaigue's all-action performance.
Goals from O'Doherty and Brendan Rogers helped the Derry club lead 2-3 to 0-0.
Slaughtneil led by seven at half-time and while Joey Scullion's goal helped cut the margin to three, the Derry club held on for a deserved victory.
Club stalwart Thomas Cassidy, who coached virtually all of the players through Slaughtneil's underage grades, was buried on Friday and his son Eanna lined out in Sunday's final as the Emmets outfit clinched their emotional triumph.
In addition, three of Cassidy's daughters played in the curtain-raiser at the Athletic Grounds as Slaughtneil drew the Ulster Club Camogie final also against Loughgiel.
McKaigue performance crucial for Slaughtneil
Derry football star McKaigue's magnificent display was key to Slaughtneil's victory.
The Slaughtneil captain dominated proceedings in the midfield third of the field in the opening half as the Emmets forged a lead which ultimately proved a sufficient cushion to hold off Loughgiel's second-period revival.
In contrast, Loughgiel's primary playmaker Eddie McCloskey was largely anonymous while Liam Watson was a virtual spectator before being replaced after only 12 minutes of the second half.
Time and time again, McKaigue was able to feed the ball into the likes of his Derry county football team-mate Rogers and Se McGuigan after winning possession.
McKaigue also notched three superb points form play and it was fitting that he had the final scoring say in injury-time after Loughgiel had got to within a puck of the Derry champions.
O'Doherty goal gives Slaughtneil the perfect start
After the heartbreak of last year's extra-time final defeat by Cushendall, Slaughtneil's appetite was obvious from the off as Loughgiel struggled to deal with the opposition's tenacious tackling.
O'Doherty hit Slaughtneil's first goal as early as the second minute after a frantic goalmouth scramble.
By the ninth minute, Loughgiel were 0-0 to 2-3 in arrears as Rogers fired to the net after a mistake by Ronan McCloskey allowed a charging Se McGuigan to win possession.
After Benny McCarry opened Loughgiel's account in the 10th minute, McKaigue swung over a sensational reply from 60 metres although the Antrim champions then had the better of a 10-minute period as they notched five out of six scores to cut the margin to 2-6 to 0-6.
But as neither Damien McMullan nor Donal McKinley could make any impact against McKaigue, Slaughtneil remained in control at 2-8 to 0-7 up at the break.
Slaughtneil hold nerve after Loughgiel rally
Veteran Joey Scullion's introduction gave Loughgiel more physicality and they began to chip away at Slaughtneil's lead in the second half.
Loughgiel had come back from an early eight-point deficit to win the 2013 final against Slaughtneil and there looked to be plenty of time for them to repeat the dose when Scullion's scrambled 49th-minute goal cut the margin to 2-11 to 1-9.
As scores continued to become more elusive for the Derry side, Loughgiel hit four out of fives scores in the final 10 minutes of normal time to leave only three in it as the game went into the four minutes of added time.
However, the second goal that they needed didn't come with Watson's absence keenly felt in the 65th minute as substitute Benny McAuley's 21-metre free was beaten away by the Slaughtneil defence.
Two successive McAuley points did have Slaughtneil fans living on their nerves before that man McKaigue knocked over the insurance score in the first minute of injury-time.
As tempers flared in the closing seconds, Loughgiel's Paul Gillen was red carded but it was a minor detail as Slaughtneil heartily celebrated their overdue Ulster club hurling title.
Meanwhile, Ramor United earned their first Cavan football title in 24 years as they edged out Castlerahan 0-10 to 0-8 in the final replay on Sunday.