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Kearney has a case for Slaughtneil's defence

By John Campbell

Slaughtneil goalkeeper Anton McMullan will aim to extend an enviable personal record when he lines out against Omagh St Enda's in the Ulster Club Senior Football Championship final on Sunday.

In his team's last three games - against Ballinderry in the Derry decider and then against Cavan Gaels and Clontibret in the Ulster quarter-final and semi-final respectively - the lithe, alert McMullan did not concede a goal.

A confident shot-stopper who is imbued with the ability to find colleagues with unerring accuracy from kick-outs, McMullan has been a defensive mainstay for the Oak Leaf representatives in what has been a memorable year to date.

But the capture of the provincial trophy would undoubtedly be the icing on the cake at the end of what has been a truly hectic season.

"We seem to have been in perpetual motion since early summer," reflects assistant manager John Joe Kearney.

"The fact that we have managed to keep a clean sheet in our last three matches bolsters confidence within our defence and makes us all the more determined not to concede a major score."

However, the scoring exploits of Omagh St Enda's to date have certainly not gone unnoticed in the Slaughtneil camp.

"They are very sharp in attack, they know how to create chances and in players like Jason McAnulla and Ronan O'Neill they have people who can hurt you," concedes Kearney.

While goalkeeper McMullan's agility and vision have deprived opponents of gaining comfort from hitting the net lately, he is far from alone in epitomising Slaughtneil's defiance.

Skipper Francis McEldowney, a former Derry county star, leads by splendid example, Karl McKaigue is an accomplished man-marker, Paudie Cassidy has shown he can step up to the plate when required and Chrissy McKaigue deploys his vast experience superbly at centre-half-back.

"While we don't fear St Enda's, we certainly respect them," states Kearney.

"How could we not? They have achieved much this year but just the same I have every confidence in all our players and I feel they will rise to the occasion at the Athletic Grounds.

"I know that the lads will put in a big effort and take a very positive attitude into the match. I know, too, that our supporters will get behind them - this is one match that everyone wants to see."

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