GAA Football

New boss Terence McWilliams hails Slaughtneil potential as talks are planned with Patsy Bradley

Patsy Bradley was superb in Slaughtneil's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Nemo Rangers, and new manager Terence McWilliams is keen to keep the experienced midfielder involved. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

NEW Slaughtneil boss Terence McWilliams has hailed the “serious potential” of the Ulster champions’ young guns, but feels the experience of men like Patsy Bradley is more important than ever.

McWilliams was confirmed as the new manager of the Slaughtneil footballers on Wednesday night, taking over from the hugely successful Mickey Moran.

The Kilrea man will be assisted by Willie Hampson, and also hopes to bring in another backroom member as well as a goalkeeping coach in the coming weeks.

Ryan Keating, a fitness development coach with Ulster Rugby, has been drafted in to look after the strength and conditioning end of things, having previously worked with McWilliams at Kilrea.

The new boss knows he has big boots to fill after Moran guided the club to four Derry championships, three Ulster titles and two All-Ireland finals.

But it is not entirely new territory for McWilliams.

Back in 2000, the former Ulster Council games development manager led Slaughtneil minors to the third of a Derry championship three in-a-row - a team that included current captain Bradley. He also coached the Emmet’s seniors in the early 1990s.

McWilliams met the players last night and while he intends speaking to “every single one of them”, ensuring the availability of midfield stalwart Bradley is among his top priorities.

“The first boy I’ll be talking to is Patsy – I’d hope Patsy could commit to another year,” said McWilliams, whose first game in charge will be against Ballinderry on Sunday.

“You look at the rest of those boys, 21, 22, 23… there’s serious potential there. You don’t reach maturity until 28, 29 years of age, and keeping Patsy on board is very important too because he is a key leader there.

“I have a very close affinity with the club – I’m half Slaughtneil man myself; my uncle David McKenna helped start the club, and I would know the likes of Patsy, Paul Bradley and Barry McGuigan from that minor team.”

And taking over from such a successful regime, he admits, is a major challenge.

“Of course it is. Funny, I was out for a walk last week and bumped into Hannah Shields [the first ever Irishwoman to conquer Mount Everest] and I asked her why she did that and she said ‘because of the challenge’.

“They’ll all have to put in an extra level to get over the line [on the All-Ireland stage], and how I manage that is critical. But they’re not far away.”

Slaughtneil’s footballers came up short against Nemo Rangers in the semi-final of this year’s All-Ireland Club SFC, while the club’s hurlers bowed out at the same stage of the hurling championship to Na Piarsaigh a fortnight earlier.

Considering that a number of players line out for both teams, there is a fine balance to be struck, and McWilliams intends sitting down with hurling boss Mickey McShane to discuss a future plan.

“Of course - if you don’t do that you’re on a hiding to nothing,” he added.

“Some of them play for four teams, so it’s going to need communication. I have to know what they’re doing too, and if you can manage that, that’s half the battle. “There’s no point in four managers setting out four different training programmes because that’s simply not going to work.

“Getting the training load right is vital.”

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