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Kearney pays tribute to the togetherness of squad


Special: Slaughtneil assistant boss John Joe Kearney

Special: Slaughtneil assistant boss John Joe Kearney

Winner: Slaughteil’s Cormac O’Doherty celebrates

Winner: Slaughteil’s Cormac O’Doherty celebrates

Philip Magowan

Special: Slaughtneil assistant boss John Joe Kearney

The stadium announcer had delivered the message that the jubilant people of Slaughtneil were to depart the pitch long after the final whistle. Naturally, everyone ignored the instruction.

"There were lot of very happy people amongst the players and the spectators and the management too," smiled assistant manager John Joe Kearney.

"I think we were going in underdogs today and that's fine. It didn't worry us. We don't pay a lot of attention to what is in the papers, we go out and play the game and hope to win it. If we win it, great. If we lose it, well then we have to wish the other team the best."

He says that, but Slaughtneil put such effort into this thing of theirs. On any given night, there will be no less than 34 at training, Kearney insists, with half a dozen young men knowing they have no chance of making a matchday panel, but there to make up fully staffed in-house games.

"It's a special thing," Kearney noted.

"There are fellas that would be very close to the team and maybe not getting on and were playing last year, maybe getting minutes here and there this year.

"There is no nonsense. No bitching, no animosity."

He added: "It was a great victory. We knew going into this today that we would be there or thereabouts.

"We were going to give Vincent's a lot of respect but having said that, we weren't going to lie down to them."

His opposite number Tommy Conroy - the Dublin centre-forward when they won the All-Ireland in 1983 - appeared to be almost shell-shocked with the result. Slaughtneil can do that to a man.

"In fairness, Chrissy McKaigue punished us," he pointed out.

"He hit scores from play and it's a credit to him and what he was doing. Even with that there was just areas of our game - the pass wasn't sticking, the basics we were getting wrong."

Ultimately, this much-vaunted St Vincent's team never showed up. Or maybe they weren't allowed to play. Either way, Slaughtneil deserve all the credit.

"A semi-final is about getting over the line, but we couldn't," added Conroy.

"We wish Slaughtneil the best. What they have achieved is fantastic. We wish them well and there's no better man than Mickey Moran. He's a great coach and I'd just like to wish him all the best on St Patrick's Day."

Belfast Telegraph