GAA Football

Mickey Moran is the main man says Slaughtneil defender Brendan Rogers

Brendan Rogers produced close to the perfect performance against Kilcoo last Sunday

SLAUGHTNEIL’S defensive rock Brendan Rogers has praised manager Mickey Moran to the high heavens for his “phenomenal” impact after the south Derry club won their second Ulster Club senior football title in three seasons last weekend.

Since Moran took the Slaughtneil reins in 2014, the footballers haven’t looked back. Moran has steered clear of the media spotlight and has politely declined all interview requests. So the media portfolio always falls to his trusted assistant John Joe Kearney.

“Mickey didn’t change anything when he came in,” said Rogers.

“He just wanted to bring the best out of us. That’s what’s different. He believes in us and he’s smart and calm. The fact that he doesn’t deal with media shows that he doesn’t like a fuss and shows what a gentleman he is.

“For him, it’s all about the players. I take my hat off to him. He’s a phenomenal man. Words sometimes would spoil just what an icon he is around our club, in Derry and in Ireland.”

Rogers had an outstanding game in Sunday’s decider against Down champions Kilcoo, robustly guarding the edge of the square while breaking forward to hit two brilliant points.

He curtailed Kilcoo danger man Paul Devlin and twice raced up the field in the first half to register two crucial scores for Slaughtneil: “That’s the kind of intensity you want in a game,” he said.

“You like it being end-to-end and you feel like you’re in the thick of it all the time. In fairness to Kilcoo, they never stopped running. There were times I was thinking: ‘Jeez, stop running boys’. You don’t want to play handy games, you want to play the big teams and I’m just glad we’re on the right side of it.”

Despite Slaughtneil’s insatiable appetite for silverware, Rogers insists winning isn’t everything at the club and that there are more important things when pulling on the maroon jersey.

Slaughtneil annexed their second Ulster Club football title in three seasons last Sunday 

“At the end of the day, it’s not about winning football matches - you want to represent your people, yourself and your family as best as possible. That’s what it’s about.

“Winning is just a nice side to the whole thing - and that’s the way we like to keep it. It’s about the enjoyment factor - if you don’t enjoy your football, what’s the point in playing?”

After clinching their first-ever Ulster title in 2014, Mickey Moran’s men reached the All-Ireland final on St Patrick’s Day but were a distant second best to Galway champions Corofin.

“I don’t want to say we’re ready for an All-Ireland but the last one told us where the bar was,” said Rogers.

“We got our eyes open the last time. So since then we’ve tried to step up to that standard and raise our game. That’s just the level we want to be playing at and we want to be doing that week in, week out, and if it gets us as far as an All-Ireland I’d be a happy man.”

The Robert Emmet's men first have to negotiate a tricky All-Ireland quarter-final away to St Kieran's of London on Saturday December 10.

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