Having shown impressive accuracy for the majority of the game, it was their fourth wide, Carroll’s first, that proved the most costly in the last minute of normal time.
However, Stack was stoutly defensive of a player who had a 100% record from his three earlier frees.
“He’s been a fantastic player for us all year so there’s nobody inside in that dressing room blaming Shane for it because down that side of the pitch, the wind was blowing right across into him. It wasn’t an easy kick and that’s just the way it goes. Nine times out of 10, he’s kicked them in pressurised situations. I wouldn’t be a bit critical of Shane. In fact, I’m very proud of him because I thought he was excellent today.”
A team whose average age is just over 22, Stack was chuffed with their collective effort, taking into consideration where they had come from.
“Look at it, there was only a kick of the ball in it at the finish and I have to say I’m amazingly proud of our players. It’s only our second defeat in all competitions in 15 months and when you consider the drubbing we got in the 2013 county final, to roar back the way they did and put themselves within a kick of a ball of an All-Ireland final. There aren’t too many teams who would do that.”
Slaughtneil’s matchwinner was 18-year-old Cormac O’Doherty, playing just his fourth ever competitive senior game and making only his third start for the club.
“I just finished school last year,” said O’Doherty. “The quarter-final of the championship was my first time in the squad. I was only in the squad, came on as a substitute in a couple of games. My first start was the Ulster semi-final against Clontibret. I started the three games since and just the confidence has rose since then.
“There’s a lot of boys who have battled hard for Slaughtneil for the last 10 years and got no success. I’m lucky this year and I’m definitely going to enjoy it while I’m here.
“It’s definitely nice. That’s why everybody works so hard for Slaughtneil because you’re listening to them older boys. They’ve went through the heartbreaks and you can hear it in their voices, how much it kills them that they don’t have more success. While they’re still there, it’s nice to give them that wee bit of satisfaction.”