LOUGHGIEL Shamrocks stormed through this Ulster Club Final to remain on course to retain their All-Ireland crown.
19 points was the gap at Casement Park on Sunday and it showed.
Portaferry started strongly and battled gamely for most of the first half but once the Shamrocks’ found the net for their first goal the resistance of the underdogs was broken.
It is now a third Ulster title in a row for Loughgiel and a seventh overall.
Eddie McCloskey, who converted eight points, was the Man of the Match as Loughgiel eased home but at the start the Downmen led four times in the opening 12 minutes.
However, once Benny McCarry put Shamrocks ahead in the 13th minute it was unlucky for Portaferry.
Loughgiel fired four points to go ahead and before half-time all six starting Shamrocks’ forwards had scored.
Portaferry hung on and with a third of the match gone they were only one score behind at 0-7 to 0-6 but in the seven minutes before half-time Loughgiel added another 1-5 and Portaferry only registered one point in that period.
For Loughgiel’s first goal Casey followed in to a parried Liam Watson shot.
At half-time Loughgiel were well in control - 1-12 to 0-7 - and in the second half eased to victory with several scores including a Liam Watson goal.
Shamrocks even had the luxury of subbing several players including the goalkeeper.
Loughgiel chief PJ O’Mullan said they are well up for retaining the all-Ireland.
“I think when you look at our hooking and blocking today, anybody that things we’re not hungry ... we’re All-Ireland champions and we’ve earned the right to go back and defend our title now. That’s what we are going to try and do. We’ll put every effort into it.
“We’ll try and repeat what we did last year but for these boys hunger is not an issue. Any day you hit 2-25 and you deny your opponents a goal chance is a good day,” said O’Mullan.
Loughgiel will now face the winners of the Galway championship in the All-Ireland semi-final in February.
Loughgiel: D . Quinn; P. Gillan, N. McGarry, B. McAuley (0-1); James Campbell, M. Scullion, Johnny Campbell (Capt); M. McFadden, T. McCloskey; E. McCloskey (0-8), D. Laverty (0-2), J. Scullion (0-4); B McCarry (0-3), L. Watson (1-5,0-4 frees), S. Casey (1-2). Subs: K. McGarry (52), C. O’Connell for Quinn (54), D. McCloskey for Laverty (55), T. Coyles for Casey (58).