McKinley: Slaughtneil deserve TV recognition
Slaughtneil camogie manager Dominic 'Woody' McKinley has hit out at what he feels is a 'disgraceful' lack of recognition in the wider media for his team as they aim to create history by winning three consecutive All-Ireland titles when they face Wexford's St Martin's in a few weeks.
McKinley, a former All-Ireland club hurling champion with Loughgiel Shamrocks in 1983 who played in the All-Ireland final of 1989 with Antrim, pointed to the huge numbers attending the last two Ulster finals when Slaughtneil came up against his home club.
"In Dungannon this year there were 4,000 people at the Ulster final," explained McKinley.
"In the year prior it was played in Glen, Maghera. We played in the Ulster final and there were over 5,500 people, the biggest crowd ever recorded for a camogie match in Ulster.
"The coverage they get for all this work they are putting in is nil. I was sitting in someone's house the year we played the game in Maghera and I stayed back in a friend's house to see BBC and UTV. It was half an hour wasted thinking they would say something about it, but not a word. I think it's disgraceful."
McKinley insisted that the issue had not been talked about within the group, but he felt he needed to raise it for the sake of equality, name-checking the lack of coverage Down's Clonduff camogie team have received in reaching the All-Ireland Intermediate final, which will be played on the same day as Slaughtneil's decider in Croke Park.
"At the start when I came in, I had watched camogie and never really paid attention to it. I hadn't the respect that I have for them now. Once you start working with them, you get the vibes and feelings. They care so deeply about this," he said.
"And to get to the level they have got to, anybody that knows anything about sport, there is serious dedication to it. There is serious time and effort to get to that level and then to maintain it and stay there. You are talking about a unique group of players."
McKinley insists the commitment shown to their sport by the Slaughtneil camogs surpasses any senior men's group he has coached.
McKinley, who stepped down from the role of joint Antrim senior hurling manager at the end of last summer, stated: "The amount of time and effort they put in, I have never worked with a group of girls like this in my life. I always say to those girls, 'I wish sometime in my life I could get a group of boys like this'.
"They are so dedicated it is unreal. Over the past three, four years, you are talking about girls who train every other day. If there are 365 days in the year, they will have trained 180 days from the day they start until the time they finish.
"We're going into February and March every year, so these girls are training nearly every other day. We train Wednesday, Friday and Sunday morning and then they have their two gym sessions to do as well."
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph for a right of reply, UTV stated: "We regularly report on local camogie success and last year our sports team exclusively interviewed Slaughtneil player Eilis Ni Chaside at length in advance of the final last year.
"This followed on from not only regular mentions on match successes but also in depth reports on Slaughtneil's success in all three codes, including the camogs."
A spokesperson for BBC Northern Ireland said: "BBC Sport NI reflected the team's semi-final victory on Sunday with a story online and the following day BBC Radio Ulster covered the result throughout the morning in news bulletins and on Good Morning Ulster.
"We have regularly had special reports from the club, interviews with players and coaches and features focusing on the club's achievements including, for example, reports on their victories and the team's homecoming last year. We would also expect to report on the team's third All-Ireland appearance this year."