Loughgiel and Portaferry earn facile Ulster club semi-final wins

Paul Braniff helped Portaferry see off Ulster Club Championship debutants Swatragh

Loughgiel and Portaferry progressed to the Ulster Club Hurling final after comfortable wins on Sunday at Casement.

Paul Braniff struck 11 points as Portaferry beat Swatragh 0-23 to 1-6.

Portaferry hit the opening eight points with Braniff finishing with an 11-point haul and Ruairi Convery notching Swatragh's goal before being sent-off.

Eddie McCloskey notched 1-6 with Liam Watson scoring 0-8 as All-Ireland champions Loughgiel beat Middletown 1-25 to 0-12 in the second semi-final.

Sunday's opening semi-final was a niggly affair but there was no doubting Portaferry's superiority against a club playing in the Ulster Club Championship for the first time.

Portaferry hit their eight unanswered scores in the opening 19 minutes with Braniff's 10th-minute effort from play the pick of the bunch.

Two Convery points cut Portaferry's lead to six by the 24th minute but a couple of Stephen Murray scores helped the Down champions to lead 0-12 to 0-2 at half-time

Convery's goal gave Swatragh a glimmer of hope after the restart but Portaferry reasserted control with five unanswered points.

Derry forward Convery received a straight red card in the 43rd minute after an off-the-ball incident in one of several moments of aggression in the contest.

In the second semi-final, Middletown stayed in touch early as two Ryan Gaffney frees left the scores 0-2 to 0-2 but Benny McCarry's four points from play helped the All-Ireland champions move into a 0-12 to 0-5 lead by the interval.

McCloskey kicked in Loughgiel's goal two minutes into the second half and it was largely one-way traffic for the remainder of the game.

The impressive McCarry completed a tally of 0-6 after two more efforts from play which complemented the scoring hauls of Watson and McCloskey.