Blow for Slaughtneil as Cassidy is ruled out
Slaughtneil have been dealt a blow in advance of Sunday's Ulster Club final clash with Down champions Ballygalget with the news that full-back Sean Cassidy will miss the match.
The defender suffered a medial ligament injury just five minutes into the club's Ulster Championship semi-final win over Dunloy at Owenbeg and was replaced by Cormac McKenna.
Cassidy has given outstanding service to Slaughtneil of late, and his experience and composure will be missed at the back.
McKenna may now be handed a starting role by manager Michael McShane for a provincial decider, for which Slaughtneil have already been cast as favourites.
This is largely because of the manner in which they overcame a fired-up Dunloy side, while Ballygalget in contrast were able to engage cruise control in their handsome win over Fermanagh representatives Lisbellaw in the other semi-final.
McShane has already taken stock of his dual players following their exertions in the Ulster Club Football Championship quarter-final win over Kilcoo on Sunday.
The McKaigues, Chrissy and Karl, along with Brendan Rogers, Cormac O'Doherty, Michael McGuigan, Shane McGuigan, Meehaul McGrath and Sé McGuigan are among those chasing provincial medals in both codes.
"Obviously there are demands being made on the players who are involved in both codes but they are up for the challenge," said McShane. "We are determined to keep the titles we won in all codes last year but we know that this certainly won't be easy."
Ballygalget will look to players such as Gareth 'Magic' Johnston, Danny Toner, Cormac Coulter, Brook Byers and skipper Ben Toner for inspiration.
Manager Paddy Monan accepts that his team face a stiff test.
"Slaughtneil will have taken real encouragement from that win over Dunloy and we will need to hit the ground running," he stressed.
The hurling decider, and indeed the camogie final between Slaughtneil and Loughgiel which precedes it, will be played out against an emotional backdrop as today marks the first anniversary of the death of Thomas Cassidy, who was viewed as the father figure of the GAA in Slaughtneil. Some of his sons and daughters will be involved in Sunday's action.
A club official said: "Thomas had a role in helping to nurture the careers of many of the players who will be on duty this weekend, and obviously there is an extra incentive for both of our teams to come out on top in their respective sports."