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Slaughtneil's belief burns bright, says McGuigan


Hit man: Shane McGuigan’s scoring can boost Slaughtneil
Hit man: Shane McGuigan’s scoring can boost Slaughtneil
Stephen Poacher
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Whether it be in the red and white of Derry or the maroon of Slaughtneil, scoring still comes naturally to Shane McGuigan.

When he lined out for his club in the recent Senior Club Football Championship quarter-final win over Ballinderry, he helped himself to six points and is certain to display the same appetite for scores when he plays against Glen in Sunday's semi-final.

Slaughtneil, who had won four Derry titles on the bounce before Eoghan Rua, Coleraine stole their thunder last year, are anxious to reign again in the Oak Leaf County, where they have left an indelible imprint of late.

No one is more anxious to see the side back on top than McGuigan, who has remained very much in the big picture for the greater part of this year.

"Obviously we have had to battle to get into Sunday's semi-final, but we still believe in ourselves and that is a strong point," stated McGuigan. "Glen are a good side with a number of well-known players and they won't be easy opponents."

With Banagher and O'Donovan Rossa meeting in the other semi-final on Saturday, the stage is set for what could prove to be two enthralling matches that will provide food for thought for new Derry boss Rory Gallagher as he continues to pencil names into his squad for 2020.

Gallagher has been a familiar figure at Derry Senior Club Championship matches over the past month and is now au fait with football in the county.

Meanwhile, Stephen Poacher may find himself in the rather uncomfortable environment of Division Four when the Allianz League swings into action early next year but you won't hear him complaining.

The Newry man, who wasy touted as a possible candidate to replace Eamonn Burns as Down manager before Paddy Tally was confirmed, is looking forward to serving another term as No.2 to Carlow boss Turlough O'Brien.

It will mean logging thousands of miles in all kinds of weather, facing huge challenges in terms of the opposition the team will face and striving for credibility in what can be an unforgiving environment, but you won't find Poacher overtaken by any degree of apprehension.

Instead he can't wait for the new season to begin and already he has been helping to map out plans in tandem with O'Brien.

Highly respected as a coach and known for his complete dedication, Poacher's prime goal will be to see Carlow make a quick return to Division Three.

"I think in certain respects we were rather unlucky in the league this year," said Poacher. "We lost our last two games to Down by a point and to Laois by three points and that was disappointing, but I believe that there is a lot of talent in the Carlow squad and I hope to see this come to fruition next year.

"Obviously I'm facing into a lot of travel but I am prepared for this. What makes me want to do it is the attitude, enthusiasm and energy of the Carlow players. They are set on bettering themselves and I want to play my part in trying to ensure that they achieve this."

Poacher is particularly impressed with the facilities to which the Carlow players have access, labelling them as being superior to those in a number of other counties.

"We have superb amenities at our Centre of Excellence, and in addition to this you have wonderful facilities at Carlow IT which are at our disposal," pointed out Poacher.

"I think when you enjoy working with a group of players it makes your role all the more satisfying. I believe too we had some shocking bad luck both on the field and off it this year.

"In other circumstances, I felt that the team could have made a push for promotion, and that's something we intend to do next year."

Belfast Telegraph


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