Biting back: Slaughtneil success built on fanaticism
It’s a quirky, curious name, alright. At the press night before their heavy defeat in the All-Ireland club final, their club stalwart and former player John Joe Kearney said they used to be called the “Slaughters” by opposition teams, in reference to their propensity towards the more combative aspects of Gaelic games.
Most of the time, stories of battles in the past are just that; figments of the imagination cooked up over a few post-match pots of stout, but it doesn’t stop us enjoying them all the same.
And in the last few weeks, the wider world was able to get a glimpse inside the soul of a tiny community where the GAA is the only thing of note in a parish. Now, everyone knows who Slaughtneil are and what they stand for.
In the catacombs of Croke Park after Tuesday’s match, their flame-haired midfielder Paudie McGuigan stood and tried his best to articulate what had happened out on the pitch, but you could see the heart had been ripped out of him by Corofin’s convincing win.
Many are surprised at the rise of Slaughtneil, but as a wise man of my acquaintance said the other day, conditions such as those enjoyed by Slaughtneil are perfect for nurturing a fanaticism for all things GAA.
In early April, the Derry Championship draw will be made. Every other club will be ravenous for Slaughtneil.
That’s what makes it the club scene it is.