Big match reaction
For this game, Slaughtneil had ten weeks of consecutive hurling under their belts.
It is possible that manager Michael McShane never had that amount of undiluted input into this group of players, unspoiled by the demands of football. Therefore, this was the big push. And you sense afterwards, that he knew it too.
“It’s very obvious,” he explained, “we lost the game in the first five minutes of each half. We went 1-2 down before we struck a ball in the first-half, then conceded 1-1 at the start of the second half.
“It’s inexplicable….I don’t know. I’m not going to point fingers at anybody, but they were out of the blocks very quick and that 2-3 was the difference in the end. So bitterly disappointed. We’ve given it everything that we could do over the last ten weeks of training and very proud to have won another Derry and Ulster title.”
He continued: “But this is where we wanted to be and we wanted to win today. We’ve had enough of glorious performances that ended in defeat and this is another one. We’re just very very down.
“At half-time we were well positioned but five minutes into the second-half we were very badly positioned at six points down with a mountain to climb against a very, very good team.
“The goal we got…. we could have done with that goal with ten minutes to go. It just all came too late.”
His opposite number, Darragh O’Sullivan could not hide his satisfaction.
“Overall, I’m thrilled with the lads’ overall performance. Their application, desire and hunger was really at the pitch of it today and it needed to be because if it wasn’t Slaughtneil would be in an All-Ireland final, not us,” he explained.
It also answered questions that came up before, namely that they were a ‘top of the ground’ team, not suited to the rigours of winter hurling.
“People said that about us, I never felt that,” stated O’Sullivan.
“ We’re as hard a working team as any other in the country, in my opinion, and the reality of it is when you come to winter hurling that’s what comes out. Some days, we didn’t win matches and other teams beat us and were better than us in bad conditions.
“Look at a day down in Dungarvan against Loughmore and a day like today, the surface today wasn’t really winter but it was very bumpy and that’s the reality of it. Whether it is Croke Park, Walsh Park or Fraher Field, we’re just delighted to be in an All-Ireland final.”
And now, to the final.
“It’s something we have to be careful of because it’s something we have no experience of.
“We have experienced Munster finals and All-Ireland semi-finals but not All-Ireland finals. I think we’ll do the same as we did for this game and the last game, we’ll treat the final as any other match.”