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Dual code star Rogers keeps Slaughtneil on the write lines

 

By John Campbell

A triple plus-factor boost has served to further heighten Slaughtneil's resolve in advance of Saturday's important Ulster senior club football championship semi-final against Donegal aces Kilcar at Healy Park, Omagh (6.30pm).

The unexpected early return to training by Conor McAllister, the fact that the team have continued to avoid any serious injuries and the capture by dual star Brendan Rogers of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Association monthly merit award for October will see the reigning provincial champions enter the fray with a decided spring in their step.

This, too, despite a particularly demanding itinerary to date that has seen a number of players add to their already considerable medals haul in both hurling and football.

But assistant manager John Joe Kearney believes that the players' appetite for more glory still remains to be sated.

"Obviously we are delighted that Conor McAllister has been able to join us again, although he is still recovering from the injuries he received in an assault in Belfast, and we are indeed fortunate that we have managed to avoid any other major knock-backs," points out Kearney.

"The fact that Brendan Rogers has won the writers' award has given us all a bit of lift going into this match against Kilcar, who have certainly shown themselves to be a formidable force and who will certainly be a very tough obstacle for us."

Kearney and team boss Mickey Moran are expected to finalise their line-up tonight relieved that their team had an opportunity to catch their breath last weekend.

"We were not involved in any code for a change, so that has provided us with a little leeway, but we will be putting the finishing touches to our preparations for this game against Kilcar tonight and you can take it from me that the boys will be raring to go," adds Kearney.

For Rogers, the match marks yet another challenge in what has been a hectic year to date, but you won't hear a murmur of complaint from the 23-year-old who will man the full-back berth on Saturday night having deployed his skills in attack in adding Derry and Ulster hurling championship medals to his collection as full-forward.

Ironically, Rogers has taken delivery of the writers' award almost a year after his first such honour.

"It's just a couple of weeks earlier this year," he reveals.

"October was a tough month for the club with no let up as hurling and football was played end-to-end."

"However, we managed to handle the situation and winning the hurling final again was superb.

"Now we are into the football semi-final, and hopefully we can go all the way again and retain the Ulster treble in football, hurling and camogie."

"It's up to the footballers to match last year's Ulster run but there's no pressure on us, however."

Known for his wholehearted approach to both codes, Rogers is eagerly anticipating Slaughtneil's clash with a Kilcar side that includes the McHugh cousins Ryan, Mark and Eoin, as well as the wily Michael Hegarty who pulls the strings in their attack.

And scorer-in-chief skipper Patrick McBrearty, who won an All-Ireland senior medal with Donegal in 2012, is always a huge threat.

The dual star likes to get forward in football as he sets up scores for team mates but points out: "It is dangerous to roam too far up as you can't leave the back door open when playing at full-back."

And he has his own thoughts on Slaughtneil's seemingly endless odyssey.

"If you are putting in the hard work it will just keep building and building without you even realising it," he smiles.

Belfast Telegraph

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