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A 'double triple' for Slaughtneil won't help Derry yet: Kearney

By John Campbell

Published 29/09/2016

Dual: Chrissy McKaigue is eyeing a third hurling and football medal
Dual: Chrissy McKaigue is eyeing a third hurling and football medal

The progressive Slaughtneil club may be on the cusp of a treble coup in the Derry Senior Football Championship, but long-serving mentor John Joe Kearney believes this will not automatically translate into success at inter-county level.

Last year Slaughtneil powered to the Derry football, hurling and camogie crowns, and already this year the hurling and camogie honours have been retained.

With the football side due to meet Loup in their decider later this month, Slaughtneil could clinch another triple triumph.

Last year Slaughtneil beat Coleraine Eoghan Rua to collect the football title, while in 2014 they got the better of Ballinderry.

"The fact that we will be facing a third different side in the final shows the level of competition," pointed out Kearney.

"We know success can come in cycles and we are happy to be in the frame for another title. There is no doubt that the standard of club football in Derry is as good as anywhere else, but the big task is to get the best possible 15 players to gel in the county team."

And Kearney, assistant to Slaughtneil boss Mickey Moran, sounds a note of caution as efforts are stepped up to see Derry become a potent football force.

"I think it might take a year or two yet before Derry can make a significant breakthrough," stated Kearney. "Manager Damian Barton made progress in his first year in charge by taking the side into the last round of the qualifiers, but you have to keep everything in context.

"When you assess the Dublin v Kerry and Dublin v Mayo matches, you notice just how high the bar has been raised."

He is convinced that Donegal and Tyrone will be the only two Ulster counties capable of mounting a viable All-Ireland challenge next year.

"I think these are the only counties from this part of the world capable of living with the big boys," insisted Kearney,

While Slaughtneil's success in the different codes is a source of pride to Kearney, he nevertheless acknowledges that the club has been 'lucky' in some respects.

"We have been lucky in that we have a number of very talented dual players, we have avoided serious injuries, and even the couple of players we might have working away can always manage to get home," he said.

Indeed, dual players such as Chrissy McKaigue, Paul McNeill, Meehaul McGrath, Brendan Rogers, Cormac O'Doherty, Karl McKaigue and Shane McGuigan have been showing a level of commitment that is above and beyond the call of duty.

Meanwhile, Cavan county board spokesman Mark O'Rourke has insisted the arrival of a new football boss is not imminent. "No interviews have been held," revealed O'Rourke, "Nothing is imminent."

Belfast Telegraph

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