O'Brien's Foreglen 0-12
St Malachy's Castledawson 0-07
A thoroughly professional performance from O'Brien's held the Castledawson challenge at arm's length to seal their passage to the McFeely Group Derry IFC Final at Owenbeg yesterday.
The tenacity of the Foreglen defence swarmed any St Malachy's attacker who threatened to make inroads and Man of the Match Eoghan Duffy transferred the ball superbly into the forwards who chipped away efficiently at the scoreboard.
O'Brien's played with a stiff breeze in the first half but they didn't allow Castledawson to take advantage of their turn with the elements after the break and between Kevin O'Connor's free-taking accuracy and the deep attacking qualities of James O'Kane and Liam O'Hara they confirmed their dominance with a victory.
Although not named in the original line-up, Castledawson's Aidy Bradley was a late change to the starting 15 and announced his arrival in the 5th minute by collecting a perfectly-weighted Declan Lavery pass and slotting the opening score.
Foreglen responded well and were working the ball into their inside forwards with consummate ease, but their early efforts were largely off-target. They registered four wides and were almost immediately punished when 'Dawson worked a goal-scoring opportunity.
St Malachy's moved the ball quickly through hands, Luke Doyle finding Conor Taggart in the penalty area, but as he pulled the trigger, a heroic diving block from Foreglen's John Duffy deflected the ball out for a 45.
It took until the 12th minute for a relaxed Foreglen side to open their account, Kevin O'Connor slipping to Caolan O'Connor who split the posts and Cahir O'Connor fired them in front two minutes later.
Kieran O'Kane then turned a Kevin O'Connor effort out for a 45 before O'Connor was left frustrated by referee Gregory McWilliams who failed to allow advantage with the full-forward bearing down on goal.
O'Connor tapped over the free to double the Forelgen lead before further points from Eoghan Duffy, James O'Kane and Cahir O'Connor stretched the lead to six points in the 20th minute.
Aidy Keenan tapped over a free in response but another O'Connor free followed before Liam O'Hara got his fist to a dropping ball and a relieved Aidan McLaughlin in the 'Dawson goal watched as it hit the bar and dropped over.
St Malachy's finished the half well, creating another goal chance when Rían Connery hit the post from a free before a late Paddy Henry free left them trailing by six points at the break.
Having gone close at the end of the first, Rían Connery opened the second-half scoring with a 31st minute 45 but Forelgen countered immediately with a Kevin O'Connor free.
The game then entered a seven-minute spell in which neither team scored, Foreglen happy to control possession and repel Castledawson attacks with their disciplined defending, before a 42nd minute Kevin O'Connor free broke the deadlock.
Eoghan Duffy was rewarded for his searing work-rate with his second point in the 47th minute before St Malachy's hit back through another Connery 45 and an Aidan Keenan free.
Castledawson then had the ball in the Foreglen net after a high ball deceived everyone in the six-yard box but to their frustration it was ruled out for a square ball and the remaining three added minutes played out without incident in the Owenbeg rain.
Disappointed to lose out to last year's eventual winners, and senior sensations, Banagher, Foreglen produced a confident performance yesterday and will watch today's second Semi-Final between Drumsurn and Claudy with interest.
O'Briens: Tiarnan Burke, John Duffy, Cathal O'Hara, Shane Duffy, Padraic Morahan, Oisín Duffy, James O'Kane (0-01), Liam O'Hara (0-01), Mark McCormick, Eoghan Duffy (0-02), Kevin Dunne, Sean O'Connor, Cahir O'Connor (0-02), Kevin O'Connor (0-01, 0-04f), Caolan O'Connor (0-01).
Subs: Eunan McFeely for Shane Duffy 28', Jonathan O'Dwyer for Cahir O'Connor 42', Ciaran McFeely for Kevin Dunne 48', Ruairí Duffy for John Duffy 56'
St Malachy's: Aidan McLaughlin; Ryan Kennedy, Kieran O’Kane, Brian Ludlow; Niall Keenan, Ruairi Keenan, Tony Gallagher; Aidy Bradley (0-01), Declan Lavery, Conor Taggart, Luke Doyle, Rian Connery (0-02 - 45s), Paddy Henry (0-1f), Ruairi Shivers, Aidan Keenan (0-03f).
Subs: Niall McNicholl for Luke Doyle 48', Conor Scullion for Tony Gallagher 52',
Referee: Gregory McWilliams - St Colm's Ballinascreen
Man of the Match: Eoghan Duffy - O'Brien's