McGrath and O'Doherty in semi-final fitness fight
Slaughtneil hurling boss Michael McShane is keeping his fingers crossed on more than one front entering 2018.
The current Derry and Ulster champions are due to meet Limerick and Munster title-holders Na Piarsaigh in the All-Ireland club semi-final on February 10 but right now McShane is focussed on striving to get two key players fit for this assignment.
Meehaul McGrath and Cormac O'Doherty have played leading roles in Slaughtneil's dominance of both the provincial hurling and football codes in recent years but injuries are disrupting their preparations for the clash with Na Piarsaigh.
McGrath suffered a fractured jaw in the Ulster club football tie against Kilcar and O'Doherty incurred a pulled hamstring while also assisting the footballers.
Both are currently receiving intensive treatment for their injuries but are likely to miss some of the build-up work that is now being undertaken by both squads.
McShane is particularly keen to see the duo return to action in advance of the All-Ireland semi-final as he feels their experience could prove invaluable in the team's bid to land the biggest pride of all.
"Obviously these are two players in particular whom we are very keen to have on board but we will just have to be patient and monitor their progress," states McShane. "For a game of this magnitude you want to have all your key personnel on deck."
"Given the nature of Meehaul McGrath's injury, it's understandable that he must desist from contact sport for the present while Cormac O'Doherty is working his way back to full fitness.
"These are two players who have given a lot to the Slaughtneil cause, and if fully fit, they would bring invaluable experience to the table."