Slaughtneil's muted championship celebrations show "incredible desire to win" says manager Michael McShane

Manager Michael McShane says Slaughtneil’s muted Championship celebrations is a reflection of the players’ incredible desire to win.

By Michael Wilson
Monday, 25th October 2021, 11:39 am

A record NINTH successive Derry senior title was secured thanks to Sundays 1-17 to 2-09 victory over Kevin Lynch’s in Owenbeg but with a football championship semi-final against Lavey to come next weekend and an Ulster Hurling semi-final against Dunloy on the horizon, McShane says the players are determined to make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.

“The credit goes to those lads,” said the Emmet’s manager, “Probably, by this stage, a lot of teams would’ve lost the hunger for winning the county title but they just keep coming back every year. They are going for a county football title, they won the double last year and they are going for the double again this year. Nothing seems to sicken them, they just love their sport, they love their club and they love going out and playing.

“There will be no celebrations tonight and that’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because they have football next Saturday night. That’s the biggest credit to them.

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Slaughtneil manager Michael McShane. (Photo: George Sweeney)

“They are an incredible bunch of lads in terms of their attitude and their desire to win. What I see in them is a group of highly intelligent sports men who realise you have a window of opportunity to win as much as you can. They are maximising it.”

Sunday’s victory was McShane’s eighth Derry Championship victory, seven of which have come with Slaughtneil, and despite Kevin Lynch’s vastly improved second half during which they outscored the champions by six points, the Slaughtneil manager said he was always confident his side had done enough to clinch the Fr. Collins Cup.

“First and foremost, I am delighted we have got title number nine, that was the primary objective, we were coming to win a game, coming to win a championship final to add to the ever growing list of championships,” he said.

“We are delighted we have done that. It was a tough game but we didn’t expect anything less. We probably made hard work of it more than we should have but we are over the line and I am delighted for the players.

“It is too easy to say that (we switched off). Players don’t switch off and you have to credit Kevin Lynch’s too. This wasn’t just about Slaughtneil turning off or maybe not being where we should be. There was a fairly stiff breeze there and Lynch’s got a great start to the second half. Hitting three points over but we came back and hit two.

“The goals definitively lifted them and I was disappointed with us letting them in for the goals. We had been a really ship tight at the back the whole way through the first half, we were totally in control, but the ball coming in with a bit more pace against the breeze, we didn’t seem to deal with it well enough. A couple of players got caught out of position and to be fair to Conor (Kelly) he finished the two goals very well.

“Were we ever really in a position where we were going to lose the game? I don’t think we were. It got tight and it got exciting for people on the sideline but we just need to keep chipping away at the scoreboard, keep the points going over, and we did that.

“Our players didn’t panic. We didn’t panic on the sideline and they weren’t panicking on the pitch. The noise levels go up coming out of the stands and sometimes that can excite players but people who have been there and done it don’t get excited, they just stick to the plan and keep their cool and I thought our lads did that very well.”

Slaughtneil will now face Antrim champions Dunloy in the semi-final, a side McShane won’t need to do much homework on.

“We are playing Dunloy in the semi-final and I don’t need to do too much homework on Dunloy, I know them well. We’ve come up against them twice in the last four years and just being from Antrim I know them.

“I have seen a lot of them this year and they’re a very, very good team but that’s another battle for another day and we will prepare for that once we get the chance to. We’ll look forward to it. It’s an Ulster semi-final and we are county champions again which is great.”