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Slaughtneil to appeal McNeill red card ahead of Omagh clash

 

By Declan Bogue

Slaughtneil co-manager John Joe Kearney has confirmed he will be asking the club to appeal Paul McNeill's red card awarded during Sunday's feisty Ulster club preliminary round clash.

McNeill was dismissed shortly before half-time after a collision with Kilcoo attacker Ceilum Doherty.

"I'll be suggesting it to the committee anyway, who would do that. I think it would only be fair," said Kearney

"Paul McNeill is a young fella who I think in the four years has never even been black carded. It was a bit of play acting on the Kilcoo man's behalf and maybe it did look bad. There was very little in it and I think the player was play-acting a little bit and the referee bought it."

Meanwhile, Slaughtneil goalkeeper Antoin McMullan lavished praise on his defence for gaining another clean sheet.

From August 21, 2016, Slaughtneil went nine Championship games without conceding a goal before no less than Colm Cooper breached their defence with a placed effort in the St Patrick's Day All-Ireland final.

This year, Colm McAtamney of Swatragh and Ballinascreen's Anton Kelly have found the net, but McMullan's superb penalty save here from Darragh O'Hanlon was inspired by the sharp observation skills of their selector, Willie Hampson.

"Willie saw him doing a bit of a warm-up at the start and he hit a penalty that side. So he said that if there is a chance there is a penalty, he is going to go that side. Willie saw it, so I trusted his counsel to be fair," smiled McMullan afterwards.

"I didn't know much about it. I usually try to pick a side and the way he set the ball up, I had a feeling he was going to go that side.

"Penalty-wise it's 50-50. You just have to pick a side and cover as much area as you can and hope it hits you. It was a 50-50 call and I just went that way."

Kilcoo laid siege to his goal in the closing moments, but their closest shave was O'Hanlon's piledriver - the last kick of the game which Patsy Bradley got his fist to and deflected onto the bar.

"I have to give big Patsy credit for that one," said McMullan.

"They threw the kitchen sink at us but I thought it seemed to be free after free after free at the end. It was relentless. But we weathered the storm well, we played and showed what we are about - composure. When there is lots of adversity, we stand up and be counted.

"Be calm, execute under pressure, and that's been our mantra this past four years, and that was the highest pressure you could play against there.

"Playing Kilcoo, six in a row Down champions, on their home ground. We knew the enormity of the task there today and it just made it all the more sweeter to win."

After a repeat of the 2016 Ulster final against Kilcoo, they are set for a re-run of the 2014 decider when they face Omagh St Enda's in Celtic Park on October 28.

"We played Omagh in the final of 2014 and they were probably the better team on the day and they are very well-balanced, they have quality all over the pitch and we have a lot of respect for them," said McMullan.

"I think they are a great team and they have probably under-achieved within Tyrone over the last few years.

"It's not going to be easy, I tell you."

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