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Focus won't be an issue for Slaughtneil: McKinley

 

By John Campbell

Dominic McKinley has lived in Loughgiel for the greater part of his life and is a legendary hurling figure in the area having played in the Antrim side that lost to Tipperary in the 1989 All-Ireland final.

But while McKinley is proud of his Loughgiel roots, he will put local loyalties aside for a short spell tomorrow afternoon when he dons his other sporting hat.

It's in his role as manager of the Slaughtneil camogie side that McKinley will be in hot pursuit of yet another milestone with a club that continue to rewrite the history books in the different sports under the GAA umbrella.

Having won the Ulster senior club camogie title last year, Slaughtneil will be bidding to make it back-to-back crowns when they confront Loughgiel in the provincial decider at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (2pm).

The sides met in last year's final and Slaughtneil's success was to prove the prelude to their even more significant achievement in winning the All-Ireland Club title.

While the team's stunning success ratio has bred further confidence, it has certainly not triggered the slightest element of complacency.

"No indeed," insisted McKinley. "We are going in against a Loughgiel side with a number of very experienced players who will be keen to help overturn last year's result, so we know what to expect. This will be another big task for us but we are very keen to maintain our momentum and stay in a winning groove."

The core of the Slaughtneil side still remains intact with players such as Louise Dougan, Claire McGrath and the three Cassidy sisters - Aoife, Brona and Eilis - very much to the fore.

Loughgiel will look to Racquel McCarry, one of the best forwards in the province, along with the talented Connolly sisters - Emma, Aine and Laura - to spark their strategy against McKinley's outfit.

Much will depend on the outcome of the midfield battle where Slaughtneil generally tend to hold sway but Loughgiel's work rate in the middle third of the park could prove crucial to their game plan.

Slaughtneil's power and pace may get them over the line yet again but it will be a close contest.

And at the end of the day, McKinley will still be a legend in Loughgiel.

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