Video: Slaughtneil stopper Antoin McMullan happy to hand out praise to clubmates
ALTHOUGH he kept a crucial clean sheet, Slaughtneil goalkeeper Antoin McMullan was happy to hand out various credit notes after their Ulster Club SFC preliminary round victory over Kilcoo.
Captain Patsy Bradley, full-back Brendan Rogers, and even selector Willie Hampson all got name-checked by the Derry and Ulster champions' number one for their part in the narrow win in Newry.
Slaughtneil really should have won by more than two points but the Magpies might have stolen the victory if late goal-bound efforts from substitute JJ McLaughlin or Darragh O'Hanlon had not been prevented from hitting the visitors' net.
The latter's fierce effort was touched onto the bar by the Slaughtneil skipper before rocketing skywards and McMullan commented: "I have to give Big Patsy credit for that one.
"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…
"To be fair to big Brendan Rogers, he got a vital touch to one at the end [too]. I think that one was going to the net but we defended well, they threw the kitchen sink at us, and we stood up and were counted."
McMullan stood up himself, then dived the right way to save a penalty kick from O'Hanlon in the 53rd minute, but again he passed on praise to someone else:
"Willie Hampson [selector] 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 penalty, he is going to go that side. Willie saw it so I trusted his counsel, to be fair…
"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…
"They had a penalty against Burren [in the Down Final] and he sort of put a lot of power in it and went down the middle. It went over the bar. But again, it's just 50-50 call. You have to pick a side."
Slaughtneil next will meet Tyrone representatives Omagh, a repeat of the Ulster decider of three years ago, which the Derry side just edged, as McMullan recalled:
"We played Tyrone [champs] before, we played Omagh in the final of 2014. 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.
"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."
McMullan, though, reckons that Sunday's win over last year's beaten Ulster Finalists will stand Slaughtneil in good stead:
"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 and it just made it all the more sweeter to win.
"We are road-tested and we have come through this well. But again, there is so much competition coming through Ulster that it's going to be very difficult from here onwards. There is going to be no easy games, it is going to be tough game after tough game.
"This wasn't one of our better collective performances, but again sometimes you have to dig in and we've done that.
"That is as good a sign of a winning team as anything. When the chips are down, grind out a win".
* Slaughtneil are expected to appeal against Paul McNeill’s red card picked up against Kilcoo in Sunday’s tempestuous Ulster Club SFC preliminary round match.
The defender was dismissed after 25 minutes after an incident involving the Magpies’ forward Ceilum Doherty but the Derry and Ulster champions protested their player’s innocence.
Emmet’s assistant manager John Joe Kearney said he would be asking club officials to submit an appeal: “It’s not for me to say, but I’ll be suggesting it to the committee anyway, who would do that.
“I think it would only be fair. Paul McNeill is a young fella who, I think, in the four years [with the senior side] 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.
“I think we would have liked to talk to the referee because there was very little in it and I think the players was play-acting a little bit and the referee bought it.
“The young fella [McNeill], he made no contact with him and the two of them went for the ball. We couldn’t understand how he was sent off."
Whether or not McNeill gets suspended, he will not be banned for Sunday's Ulster Club SHC final against Down champions Ballygalget as the punishment would only apply in one code.