Last weekend Brendan Rogers had his first Sunday off in nearly a year.
Gaelic games should have been the furthest thing from the mind of this multi-talented, in-demand dual player, yet he says he felt almost envious of the Ballyea and Glen Rovers players as he settled down on Sunday afternoon to watch the Munster club hurling final.
The rigours of playing, and winning, multiple titles with the Slaughtneil footballers and hurlers in recent seasons might seem excessive to some, but the 22-year-old is loving every minute of his chaotic schedule ahead of Sunday’s Ulster football final.
“It is great to be back here again, I suppose some people might wonder is it routine or is it a fairytale?” said Rogers.
“A lot of the older ones around the club would say it’s a real fairytale and this stuff just doesn’t happen.
“For the players, we think it’s another game that we want to win.
“It’s a final and you never ever take any final for granted, but it is enjoyable being in the thick of things.
“It’ll probably only be in another 10 or 20 years that we realise what we’ve achieved.”
A win over Down champions Kilcoo in the Athletic Grounds would complete an unprecedented treble of provincial titles for Slaughtneil, who have already lifted the camogie and hurling crowns this autumn.
Rogers is one of nine players who start for both the club’s hurling and football teams and there are a dozen players in total trying to win the double-double of Derry and Ulster titles in 2016.
He never tires of training, playing and winning, or even watching, as he proved last weekend. “It was was my first Sunday off in the guts of a year but I ended up watching the hurling on TV and wishing I was out playing! That’s how enjoyable it is to be a part of this, and Ulster finals are the big days you look forward to.”
Rogers was part of the Slaughtneil side which beat Omagh St Enda’s to win the Ulster club SFC title in 2014 and this year became the first Derry club to win the Ulster SHC crown. Having been there and won it before should ease the pressure on their shoulders on Sunday, but then there is that historic treble at stake.
“People have poked and prodded at the pressure word.
“We’re just going out to win a game of football.
“We have nothing to prove. If we give our best, no-one can fault us... I suppose maybe the fact there’s a treble to aspire to might make you go that extra yard.”
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