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Kearney unhappy at 'intimidation' but McIver defends his players

 

By Declan Bogue

Slaughtneil's John Joe Kearney is one of those rare football managers that says exactly what is on his mind.

"We came here to play football and there were a few Kilcoo players maybe thought that they could intimidated us some of the things they were at, but it didn't happen," he told reporters after this feisty encounter.

Asked about the bizarre scenes when Kilcoo subs crowded around the dressing rooms for the re-emergence of the Slaughtneil team for the second half, Kearney explained: "That was what you would call a bit of intimidation.

"But sure if you read all the nonsense that was written in the press this week, and I know fellas do interviews and they have to report what was said, but it was just a bit of mischief-making about buying frees. The amount of frees they bought today was nothing normal.

"They couldn't complain about the amount of frees they got today anyway - they got a hell of a lot more than we got."

He added: "So, that dispels all that nonsense. We don't buy into it and we didn't buy in those things." There were other things on Kearney's mind. On Ronan Bradley's black card for a tackle on Conor Laverty: "It was right beside us. He wasn't even touched and he thought he was going into the swimming pool for a dive."

He claims that when Antoin McMullan made his save from Darragh O'Hanlon's penalty he did not see it as he was writing a sub slip at the time, but acknowledged the role that selector Willie Hampson had in noting where O'Hanlon was placing his pre-game practise penalties.

"Willie is about a lot time, he is a shrewd head," Kearney smiled. Kilcoo manager Paul McIver cut a deflated figure afterwards.

As much as they object to the assertion, they clearly had an Ulster title in their sights this winter.

"It's a hard defeat to take, especially when we really had got our preparations right. We went at the game maybe too hard in the first half - I suppose when you get over-hyped and over-emotional, maybe we were over-eager in the tackle," he began.

"I know Paddy [Murray] had talked about frees, wherever that was coming from, but we've worked really hard on our tackling all year, and at times we were wasting an awful lot of energy getting in and tackling in positions we shouldn't have been tackling in."

He added: "We were getting loads of abuse coming up through the stand about it and I was trying to find out what the hell it was all about - behold, there it's been in the newspapers all week.

"That's just the way it is, you pay no attention to these things.

"We have been working really hard this last couple of years on our tackling, and we have improved on that.

"Look, it's just another one gone, that's the way it is…"

"I think we were the better team," added Kearney about how close it was at the finish as Kilcoo pushed them right to the very end with O'Hanlon's piledriver coming back off the crossbar in the final play of the game and Slaughtneil supporters wearing out the Rosary Beads.

"But that's football. You can be caught out.

"We got through and that's all that counts."

They will now face Tyrone champions Omagh St Enda's on October 28 in Celtic Park in the quarter-final.

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