Dunloy, Ballymena

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Coleraine Prevail in Dull Encounter

Brendan Herron plucks a high ball for Ballinascreen.

Eoghan Rua 1-11 St Colm's Ballinascreen 0-09

A Niall Holly goal mid-way through the second half at Owenbeg was the key moment of a game that Eoghan Rua controlled as they booked a place in the final of the John McLaughlin cup for the first time since 2015 with victory over St Colm's Ballinascreen.

Ballinascreen's reliance on Benny Heron has been a factor throughout their championship campaign, with his two goals sealing their first round victory over Bellaghy, but, despite the full-forward managing 0-03 from play, his contribution wasn't enough to see off a composed Eoghan Rua side.

Coleraine made one change from their dethroning of Slaughtneil on Wednesday, with Richard Carey replacing Mark McTaggart at corner forward, while doubts over the fitness of Heron were dispelled as he took his place in the starting line-up for 'Screen.

Ruairí Mooney looked to have given his side the lead in the opening seconds, but his right-footed effort was judged to have tailed wide by the officials. Undeterred, the half-forward did open the scoring minutes later, collecting a ball in the centre of the 'Screen defence and dispatching it between the posts.

A Benny Heron brace then saw St Colm's briefly take the lead, before Wednesday night's hero Ciaran McGoldrick levelled matters as he raced through the middle. Shane Mulgrew restored the Ballinascreen lead with a free after he was fouled himself, only for Gavan McWilliams to tap over a free and once again level the scoreline.

St Colm's then had a spell of possession, where they attempted to work the ball around the massed Coleraine defence, ending with a Heron snapshot, but up the other end Coleraine went and struck what turned out to be the killer blow.

Niall Holly collected the breaking ball in midfield and launched a high ball in the direction of the 'Screen goalmouth. Under pressure from Colm McGoldrick, goalkeeper Ryan Scullion misjudged the flight of the ball as it dropped straight into the back of the net.

Eoghan Rua followed up with a second Ruairí Mooney point to extend the lead to four as the game meandered its way towards the half-time whistle, only traded points from Martin Bradley and a fine score from Barry McGoldrick threatening to raise pulses.

Benny Heron attempted to lead his charges at the beginning of the second half, but after his shot fell wide, a brace of points from Gavan McWilliams and a strong run and fisted point by Ruairí Mooney saw the Coleraine lead extended to seven.

It was fifteen minutes before 'Screen were to register their first score of the second half, Phillip Bradley reducing the gap to six with a neat effort before another driving Mooney run yielded a free. With new boots adorning his feet, Colm McGoldrick tapped over the free to leave St Colm's trailing by seven once again.

As the game entered the last ten minutes Shane Mulgrew raised a murmur from the 3,781 gathered in Owenbeg with a fine score as he ran across the field, but a further Colm McGoldrick free ensured Coleraine kept their opponents at arm's length.

After a fine performance, Ciaran Mullan got the score he deserved, bursting forward, holding off his man and guiding his shot between the 'Screen uprights amid a raft of Ballinascreen changes.

It was one of those substitutes, Sean Woods, who hit the next score and that was followed up with a Benny Heron point as his effort on goal soared over the bar and between the posts with referee Mervyn McAleese signalling five minutes of added time.

St Colm's were now opting for route one, launching long balls on top of the Coleraine defence, with Anton Scullion tapping over from a breaking ball to leave five between them. A further attack called Niall Holly into action, the defence failing to deal with the high ball and Holly had to be alert to get back and scramble the ball off the line and away from danger as McAleese sounded the final whistle.

Our Domino's Derry, Coleraine and Magherafelt Man of the Match Niall Holly.

Eoghan Rua progress to their first decider since their 2015 defeat to Slaughtneil, where they will meet Lavey, who have had a much longer wait since their last final in 1998. They will be pleased to get through this potential banana skin with 'Screen having been something of a bogey team for them in recent years.

Eoghan Rua: Ryan McGeough, Ciaran Lagan, Liam McGoldrick, Barry Daly, Ciaran Mullan (0-01), Barry McGoldrick (0-01), Ciaran Lenehan, Niall Holly (1-00), Paul Daly (Declan Mullan), Ruairí Mooney (0-03), Sean Leo McGoldrick, Gavan McWilliams (0-02f), Richard Carey (0-01) (Mark McTaggart), Colm McGoldrick (0-02f), Ciaran McGoldrick (0-01).

St Colm's Ballinascreen: Ryan Scullion, Michael McShane, Phillip McGlade, Ronan Devlin (Ryan Doyle), Martin Bradley (0-01), Carlus McWilliams, Kieran Conway (Dermot McBride), Phillip Bradley (0-01), Paul Burns (Noel Rafferty), Aaron Bradley, Shane Mulgrew (0-01, 0-01f), Conor McGovern (Anton Kelly), Benny Heron (0-03), Brendan Herron (Sean Woods, 0-01), Gary Conway (Anton Scullion, 0-01).

Referee: Mervyn McAleese (St Colm's Drum)

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