As sacrifices go, what Brendan Rogers has to endure in his day job in order to pursue his sporting goals goes above and beyond.
Involved in the creation of a new app, a fast-food takeaway platform called ‘Takeitaway’, part of his brief as IT designer is to visit chippies, pizza joints, and Chinese restaurants to give demos. As far as the food goes, he can look but not touch.
“It’s the chippies that are the hardest,” he says.
“You are just smelling the food and you can’t even touch it or you’d be tucking in for six months. It’s tough going, sometimes.
“But it is a good app and quite exciting to be part of.
“People can order takeaways and there’s a delivery tracking system that competes with Dominos. You can update the order status and see where the driver is, like Uber.
“We’ve had good vibes from the people we’ve presented it to. We try to make it as simplistic as possible.” Doing the simple things well has become something of a way of life in Slaughtneil.
And their most accomplished full-back will have earned a fish supper or two once he comes through the other side of tomorrow’s AIB Ulster SFC final, because it has been another incredible year.
A five-in-a-row of Derry hurling titles was backed up by a successful defence of last year’s inaugural Ulster SHC crown.
Rogers and a dozen other dual players also made it four-in-a-row of Derry football titles and victory over Cavan Gaels in the Athletic Grounds tomorrow would be a third Ulster SFC title in four years.
Throw in their brilliant camógs and a win will complete the ‘double treble’ of Ulster titles in hurling, camogie, and football.
‘Outsiders’ don’t understand how such a small community can hit such heights, so what secrets are they keeping from us? Rogers shakes his head.
“I think people are under a misconception as to what we really do.
“When Crossmaglen were at their peak, everyone was saying they were doing 6am sessions and stuff but no, in my mind it’s a very simplistic system and something we have actually grown up with.
“People talk to you about being a dual club as if you’ve only doing it this last five years — but we’ve always done it.
“It’s just that it has come to the fore with the success.
“There are no fancy drills.
“Players themselves focus on quality than quantity in training so we’re not killing ourselves in between the games.
“You don’t have to slog around the pitch running 10k in training just so you can run 10k in a match.
“It is hard to know what people see sometimes and want to take from it.” It’s a sign of the times in Slaughtneil when hanging out with TV stars Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles is just one way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Their backstory reached the ears of BBC, where Bleakley and Chiles were filming Christine and Adrian’s Friendship Test out on the hurling field with Slaughtneil’s finest, trying to tap into what makes this club tick.
Rogers decided to skip out the afternoon spent in the company of Mrs Frank Lampard and co, but regretted it afterwards.
“It sounded like something I didn’t need to be at but the feedback from the lads was that it was a laugh and they enjoyed it.
“It was a different view of Slaughtneil and they said teaching someone from a non-GAA background who had no idea about hurling made you appeciate how fine a skill it actually is.
“The two of them seemed to enjoy it.
“Maybe we will get a few more — definitely we would welcome anyone down with open arms. Sure why not?
“It’s about building communities and sharing friendships, that’s the way Slaughtneil is.
“It was a good opportunity to meet some interesting people and looking back, I was disappointed I didn’t go.
“The next time we entice anyone down I will definitely go and embrace it.” By his own admission, Rogers wasn’t happy with his own performance in the 2-17 to 0-17 Ulster semi-final win.
Kilcar’s Paddy McBrearty scored 0-10, five from play, in an open game in Omagh, and Rogers heard about it afterwards.
“I wasn’t long getting a kick up the ass,” he says.
“It’s a Slaughtneil thing that nobody is allowed to get too big for their boots. Whether people are having the craic or being serious, you always get slagged no matter how you play. There’s always that element of keeping you level-headed.
“Maybe you need it. I don’t think it was my best game and you know what? Maybe it was the best thing for me. I suppose the next game will tell.”
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