Slaughtneil stars already focused on hurling final after clinching football title insists Brendan Rogers
IT’S the standard response. Ask any player about a future opponent in the immediate aftermath of a game and they’ll swear blind they haven’t looked, not even with one eye shut, at the competition draw.
In the case of Brendan Rogers, a bit more understanding is required. As a key man on both the football and hurling teams of Slaughtneil, he has a fair bit going on at the minute.
Asking the Derry defender to look ahead to an Ulster Club SFC date with Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly in a fortnight’s time, having just seen off Loup in the Derry decider, may seem a straightforward request.
But with an Ulster hurling final against Loughgiel coming up on Sunday, sandwiched between last Sunday’s showpiece and that meeting with the Erne men, the dual players on the Emmet’s team are straddling two horses.
And in the midst of celebrating a historic hat-trick of Derry football championships, Rogers’s focus was already turning to this weekend and that showdown with the Shamrocks.
He said: “We’ll take it one game at a time.
“This week, the footballers won’t look near it - we have to get back on the ball for the hurling. The ball keeps rolling, and that’s the way we want it to be.”
There was time for some reflection, though. Still just 22, Rogers has been involved in a golden age for Slaughtneil, and Sunday’s victory over Loup saw the Emmet’s become just the third club to win three Derry titles in-a-row. The first of the run, back in 2014, was the start of a campaign that saw them crowned kings of Ulster before falling at the All-Ireland final stage.
Slaughtneil are only at the start of what they hope will be a long road, and Rogers admits they have made huge strides in recent times under the leadership of Mickey Moran and his management team.
“Three years ago if somebody had told me we’d win one you’d have taken their hand off,” he said.
“To have three, it puts us up there with what’s in Derry, and I’m just delighted for Mickey. He’s put in a lot of effort, a lot of work, and it’s great to get over the line.”
Last Sunday, the Emmet's greater experience - despite the youth contained within the starting 15 - helped them past Loup with 11 points to spare. It was a considerably wider margin than most observers expected beforehand.
The first goal of the day, fisted home by Shane McGuigan 12 minutes in, was a crucial score as it gave Slaughtneil a four-point cushion in difficult, slippery conditions.
“That really did take a lift off,” added Rogers.
“Myself and maybe a couple of others boys’ handling was a bit iffy all day. Getting used to the conditions was difficult enough, and that goal kind of settled us a bit.
“Mickey Moran is steady, he talks about keeping things simple and more experienced boys like Patsy [Bradley] say the same - keep it simple. That’s the sort of thing that pays off on big days.”
Conceding no goals and just six points, half of which were from frees, always represents a good day at the office for a defender: “The thing we like to hold on to is no goals.
“I thought we were pretty solid in defence but credit to our forwards, they made it difficult for Loup to kick the ball in and we built from there.”