Slaughtneil have quality to compete on two fronts: Bradley
Gerald Bradley, Slaughtneil's man-of-the-match in their impressive Ulster senior hurling semi-final win over Dunloy, insists that beating the Antrim champions for two successive years proves the south Derry outfit belong at the pinnacle of Ulster club hurling.
And furthermore, he believes that the next step is getting to the pitch of last February's All-Ireland hurling semi-final defeat to eventual champions Cuala.
"Last year it was the first time I had got over an Antrim team," explained Bradley, who hopes to feature for the club footballers this weekend as they get their Ulster campaign underway by facing Kilcoo in Newry for a preliminary round clash.
Reflecting on last year's hurling final win over Loughgiel Shamrocks, Bradley continued: "Basically, people might have thought it was a one-off, and that was what we were trying to go out and prove it wasn't. We were trying to prove that we can compete in Derry and in Ulster.
"And then, hopefully, if we can get by Ballygalget, it's competing on the All-Ireland stage, which we didn't do ourselves justice last year.
"At the minute we are just thinking of Ballygalget and an Ulster title would be massive for us. Back to back for a Derry club would be massive for us."
It was looking unlikely after the first quarter when Dunloy burned into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead, with Slaughtneil losing their inspirational full-back, Sean 'Tad' Cassidy.
"I thought when I seen Sean Tad going off injured, things could have been at their lowest," said Bradley. "Then again, when things are at their toughest, in Slaughtneil everybody gets together and the same thing happened (on Sunday)."
If Slaughtneil beat Kilcoo, it will mean they are out four weeks in a row, with their Ulster hurling final clash against Ballygalget followed by the Ulster football quarter-final against the winner's of this Sunday's Tyrone final between Omagh and Errigal Ciaran.
Slaughtneil hurling manager Michael McShane appealed for a solution to such a programme of games.
"I wish the Ulster Council, and I know they are tied for dates, but I wish they would look at a dual club being successful like Slaughtneil and just give us a bit of breathing space."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Sean Cavanagh will miss the upcoming International Rules test.
His club, Moy, won the Tyrone Intermediate Championship on Sunday, and it is understood that Cavanagh, a stalwart of the series who captained Ireland to the Cormac McAnallen Cup in 2008, will stay to focus on his club commitments.