Slaughtneil ‘have set standard for themselves’

It says a lot about the maturity of Slaughtneil’s winter marvels when even one of their more recent additions talks like he’s got an old head on young shoulders.

Shane McGuigan, the 20-year-old match-winner in Sunday’s AIB Ulster club SFC final victory, was just as restrained as more experienced men around him in the aftermath of completing the ‘double treble’; Ulster hurling, camogie and football titles for the second year in a row.

After kicking 1-6 against Cavan Gaels, this silky, level-headed dual player instantly forgot about what has been achieved in September, October and November.

He reckons it’s what they do in December which will determine what happens in February when the All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals come around.

“We know what we need to do to improve upon last year.

“Maybe it was a week too late we started back, maybe people enjoyed Christmas too much.

“It won’t be the same this year.

“We already have the non-dual players, out with sticks a couple of nights a week indoors to keep ticking over during the winter period.

“Then when it comes to New Year, we’ll be flat out again.”

After two All-Ireland football final defeats, to Corofin in 2015 and Dr Crokes this year, a breakthrough with the bigger ball looks the most likely but certainly within Ulster these days they have no peers, and took the magnitude of another provincial treble in their stride.

“It didn’t phase us to be honest.

“Everyone said last year that three provincial titles will never be done again but we just took it a game at a time.

“We knew with this special group of players that it could be done.”

Despite dominating most of the first half, Slaughtneil only led by 0-7 to 0-4 at half time on Sunday. They took their time coming back out, manager Mickey Moran having some strong words, and they responded the right way with an unanswered 1-3 in the opening seven minutes to kill the game with McGuigan’s goal the pivotal score in a 1-15 to 0-10 triumph.

“We never panicked. That’s what the words were at half time.

“The main thing (Moran) said was ‘don’t be panicking, go back to the way we train and play... through the hands, composure in the shot’.

“We took our chances in the second half.” They may well have expected to be facing Dr Crokes again, this time in an All-Ireland semi-final, but Nemo Rangers struck an important blow for Cork football with Sunday’s Munster final victory.

They will size each other up over the coming weeks and months but McGuigan’s initial assessment was that Slaughtneil will take every caution necessary.

“We have set the standard for ourselves but we will take Nemo very seriously.

“They will probably go in as favourites now they’ve taken down the reigning All-Ireland champions, so we know we’ve a big battle ahead of us.

“We’ll analyse them well because they have some tradition and some brilliant county players.

“You reach this stage and you’re going to be playing the best. Where else would you want to be?”

Meanwhile

Slaughtneil’s Brendan Rogers fractured a knuckle in Sunday’s Ulster Club Football victory over Cavan Gaels but expects to be fit for both All-Ireland Club semi-finals in February.

Rogers’ right hand was swollen after the game and there were fears that he had sustained a broken hand.

However, the Slaughtneil dual player received better news on Monday morning after getting the injury assessed telling BBC Sport NI that the injury should only keep him out for three weeks.



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