Slaughtneil hurlers will win an All-Ireland title: boss Michael McShane
MICHAEL McShane firmly believes the Slaughtneil hurlers will one day win an All-Ireland title – but says it may take a year when the dual club is not aiming for glory in both codes.
The Slaughtneil hurling boss lamented the lack of collective training sessions ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Munster champions Na Piarsaigh in Dublin last Saturday.
“Sometimes we were just that half second too slow in our striking and that comes from playing hurling four or five times a week,” said McShane.
“In the month of January we had five full panel hurling sessions. I would say Na Piarsaigh had that in the last 10 days. That’s the difference.
“That’s not an excuse. We are a dual club and we are a successful dual club and that’s the way it’s going to be.
“I just think that maybe it will take some year when the hurlers are going for an All-Ireland hurling semi-final on a single focus for them to get to the level they need to get at.”
After winning back-to-back Ulster titles, Slaughtneil have now fallen at the All-Ireland semi-final hurdle for the second year running.
The vast majority of hurlers also line out for the club’s senior footballers. The south Derry club turns its attentions to their All-Ireland senior football semi-final with Cork kingpins Nemo Rangers on February 24.
Despite the challenges that come along with being a successful dual club, McShane feels the experiences of the last two seasons and the favourable age profile of the hurling squad will see them finally “break down the door” on the All-Ireland stage.
“I do believe this team will do it,” said the Ballycastle native.
“The age profile is good, there are a lot of young lads that people maybe heap too much pressure on; guys at 19-20-years-of-age. So this team is far from its peak, far from its peak.
“We’ve won back-to-back Ulster titles, we’ll learn from this – as we always do, we always try and learn from defeats – and I’ve no doubt these boys will come back next year a stronger team and more equipped for it, if we get back to this level again.”
Na Piarsaigh were able to absorb the loss of Conor Boylan and Tommy Grimes to two red card offences in the early stages of the second half to overturn a three-point interval deficit to win by seven.
The undoubted catalyst was the arrival of Limerick county star Shane Dowling at the start of the second half who set up Kevin Downes for a goal and scored an incredible major towards the end of Saturday’s semi-final.
“We’ve got to keep coming back,” McShane said. “There’s no point in quitting. We lost to a very, very good team. They were All-Ireland champions two years ago, they have been Munster champions four times in the last seven years – these guys are no slouches. There is no disgrace and losing to them.
“Our guys have had the heartbreak of losing Ulster finals, Ulster semi-finals after replays, Ulster finals after extra-time by a point.
“If they were quitters they would have walked away before now.
“The year we lost to Cushendall in the Ulster final by a point, we had a resolve to keep banging on the door until we broke the door down and become Ulster champions and make history and be the first Derry team to be champions of Ulster.
“The exact same thing applies here. We’ll keep knocking on that door until we eventually break it down.”