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Slaughtneil's glory bids need space to breathe, blasts Rogers

 

By Declan Bogue

Slaughtneil's Brendan Rogers has questioned the scheduling of the GAA's club competitions, which sees himself and several other dual players for the south Derry club out this weekend in the middle of four consecutive weeks of Championship action.

This Sunday they bid to retain their Ulster hurling crown, after becoming the first club from Derry to win it last year, when they face Ballygalget of Down for the Four Seasons Cup (Athletic Grounds, Armagh, 4pm).

However, while Ballygalget have had the chance to rest up and prepare for two full weeks since their semi-final win over Lisbellaw, Slaughtneil were no sooner over Dunloy than they had to face Kilcoo in a bruising football preliminary round match with Rogers, the McKaigue brothers Chrissy and Karl, Paul McNeill and Cormac O'Doherty among others who feature for both teams.

And after this weekend they are down to face Omagh in the Ulster football quarter-final just six days later.

"I know there can be county lulls which maybe should be adapted to throughout the year," suggests Rogers, a specialist full-back in football but a full-forward in hurling.

"Derry were out of the Championship relatively early but we still had to wait until the All-Ireland was fairly well played before we could begin our Championship, which is strange.

"Why can't the county championships be brought forward, at least a week or two, to give teams that do get out of Derry a chance to get a week's preparation going into an Ulster campaign?"

Like other dual players in the club, Rogers does not shy away from the widely-held belief that rather than cutting down on preparation time exclusive to one code, for the vast majority of the panel switching from football to hurling and back again produces a certain chemistry that has proven to work for them.

He explains: "The joy of the hurling is that you can just turn your attention to it and you don't get to dwell on the football. Sunday night and Monday are about recovery and preparations, that's how you keep yourself going. You don't get bogged down in what happened the week before."

Turning his attentions to Down champions Ballygalget and what they have to concentrate on now, he revealed: "The management are very good at what they do. They don't bombard us the first night we're back.

"If boys need to know about personnel, they take them aside and let others get on with training and the habits of playing hurling.

"The managements are very good, between football and hurling the players never have to worry.

"There's no doubt they are going to be a good side. This is their second year in a row to get into the Ulster Club Championship."

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