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McShane full of praise for his victorious side after tough week

By Declan Bogue

Published 24/10/2016

Prize day: Slaughtneil captain Chrissy McKeague with the trophy
Prize day: Slaughtneil captain Chrissy McKeague with the trophy

On Friday, Slaughtneil laid to rest one of the men who had the vision to dream of days like these.

Two days later, five of Thomas Cassidy's offspring were involved in Ulster finals for the club in hurling and camogie. Nobody needs motivation in those circumstances.

Manager Michael McShane, himself a Ballycastle man, captured the thoughts of everyone when he explained: "It was a very, very tough week for everybody involved with the Slaughtneil club.

"It was a credit to the Cassidy family, to all in the Slaughtneil club how they handled it, it was very, very dignified.

"But there was just that wee bit of extra drive there today because we knew we wanted to do that for Thomas. We talked about how it would be the most fitting tribute to his memory if we were to come out on top and become Ulster champions, and the drive was to do that."

He added: "I have to tip my hat to Eanna, Thomas's son, in particular because he came out to train with us on Friday night, I had a chat with him and he was very focused and very determined that he wanted to play today, and he wanted to win.

"Nobody could have paid a better tribute to his father, I'm really proud of him and I'm sure his family are too."

As for the game, all of Slaughtneil brought a raw hunger that could simply not be matched by the 2012 All-Ireland winners.

"This wasn't a league game where a team's going to roll over and have their belly tickled," McShane said. "I was just happy when I looked at the clock and saw 29 minutes gone in the second half and we were four up. I knew at that stage they needed two scores, our defence was holding out brilliantly and standing up to their attack.

"Only at that stage did I think we had it won, but there was never any panic."

His opposite number Johnny Campbell was most gracious in defeat.

"The last time we played them, some of their players were teenagers, in their early 20s and stuff. That experience has stood to them. That is a massive club out there, the work they have done and the players they have, the togetherness and the spirit, it would take a good team to beat them," he said.

Asked if they could go on a run as he and his club had four years earlier, he answered: "They have massive hurlers all over the pitch and they die on the field for each other. There are definitely similarities there.

"It depends on who they run up against, I don't know but they could definitely make headway."

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