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Slaughtneil getting close to full fitness for opener

By John Campbell

Derry and Ulster club football champions Slaughtneil have endured their share of trauma since losing out in the All-Ireland club final to Corofin back in March.

A raft of injuries coupled with the unavailability of other players meant that a patchwork side was on duty for the initial stages of the All-County League.

However, slowly but surely familiar faces have been returning and now manager Mickey Moran and his assistant John Joe Kearney expect to have a much more recognisable outfit on duty for Sunday's domestic championship opener against Lavey.

"For a number of weeks after the All-Ireland club final we were missing a lot of players but the situation has improved lately," said Kearney.

"However, we will definitely be without experienced people like Patsy Bradley and Gerard Bradley on Sunday. Obviously when you are going into a championship match you like to have a full-strength side on duty because Lavey will feel we are up there to be knocked off our perch."

On a more encouraging note, Christopher Bradley, who incurred a broken collar-bone against Austin Stacks (Tralee) in the All-Ireland club semi-final, is back to full fitness.

"It's great to have Christopher back again. We are very aware that Lavey almost beat Ballinderry in the championship last year and we know they will be very hungry," said Kearney.

"The Derry championship is reckoned to be one of the most competitive in the province and while the back door system is in operation, teams prefer to take the direct route if this is at all possible.

"That's why we are keen to get our strongest team out and make an impact from the start. We know that it is going to be difficult."

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