Brendan Rogers always going to have his say about 10-in-a row: Slaughtneil manager Michael McShane
Slaughtneil manager Michael McShane revealed it was always his intention to introduce Brendan Rogers during Sunday's historic championship victory over Kevin Lynch's which secured a TENTH successive senior title for the Emmet's.
Rogers has been a frustrated spectator for most of the hurling and football championships to date as he's worked his way back from a wrist injury but his introduction proved the catalyst for an ultimately comfortable victory to complete their decade of Derry dominance. His left arm may still have been heavily bandaged, but Rogers presence alone unsettled the previously unflustered Lynch's backline as the football All Star nominee withstood a couple of heavy knocks to the arm en route to1-01.
"The plan was always to use Brendan," explained McShane, as he watched Cormac O'Doherty raise the Fr. Collins Cup once again, "Whether it was to start him or introduce him, we felt introducing him might be a boost to the team.
"He was disappointed that he wasn’t starting. He trained this week, but he was just that wee bit ring-rusty because he hadn’t hurled for about eight weeks with the injury. We said to him, ‘Look, we will introduce you into the game and it will be a lift for the boys' and I thought that helped him.
"Brendan’s presence, it caused a bit of distraction for them because they were very focused on stopping him. There was a couple of contacts on his wrist, let’s just say that. I was maybe wary watching it and that is understandable but there was nothing wrong with his wrist when he put that one in the back of the net - it went in like a scud missile, so he’s grand."
Many of the Slaughtneil panel were lifting medal an eighth, ninth or even 10th medal but standing out among that wealth of championship experience was the superb display of teenager Ruairi O Mianain, whose eye catching performance at full-back was topped by a point in his first Championship final. Add in the impressive cameo from Peter McCullagh and it's proof that the Slaughtneil conveyor belt of talent is showing no signs of slowing just yet.
"I have no problem in him (Ruairi) starting," insisted McShane, "He played there like he was in his 10th final in a row. He's 18 years of age and he is going to be a superstar. He is level headed, has his feet on the ground, a great lad, and I was glad he got up and got a point at the end.
"We are lucky with the panel of players we have, with the young lads coming in and you have to give them their chance. I put Peter in there, he was fabulous at training this week and was unlucky not to start. I also knew Eamon (Cassidy) and Jack (Cassidy) could come in and do a job."
The split season is probably welcomed in Slaughtneil more than anywhere else in Ireland given the remarkable exploits of the club at county, provincial and All Ireland level over recent seasons and McShane admits this time of year is still a major challenge for his dual stars and welcome the almost eight week break until Slaughtneil are scheduled to meet the champions of Down in an Ulster semi-final.
"We are living very difficult life as we always do at this time of the year," explained the Slaughtneil manager, "The lads have had football the last two weeks.
"We have hurling this weekend and football the next two weekends hopefully, so it is continually about coming down from a game and getting back up for the next game. It is mentally very difficult to do, physically not so hard. These guys can do that. We have seven or eight weeks until the Ulster semi-final and it will be a very difficult game against the Down champions. For the next couple of weeks these lads, the dual players, will focus on their football commitments and we’ll give them time and space to do that. We’ll see where we are at after that.
"(The break) is very welcome and it works well for us. They have a football quarter final next week and hopefully a semi-final and final after that. It gives them time to focus on that and I'm very player focused to allow them to go and do their best in both sports and, to be fair, so do the football management.
"That’s how it works in Slaughtneil and that’s how we have the template for success. The players are central to every decision we make."