Hurling and camogie

Tired Slaughtneil reach 'end of the line' as Ballycran progress to Ulster hurling final

Slaughtneil's Ruairi McCartney is crestfallen after the Derry champions bowed out of Ulster yesterday. Pic Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

SLAUGHTNEIL manager Michael McShane had no complaints after his two in-a-row champions were sent crashing out of Ulster by pre-game outsiders Ballycran yesterday.

McShane was full of praise for the winners, who meet Antrim’s Cushendall in the Ulster final on November 11, but he said that fighting on three fronts had finally caught up with his players, many of whom had won double doubles with the Robert Emmet’s club in the past two seasons.

“The best team on the day won,” said McShane.

“Our performance allowed them to win comfortably and I have absolutely no complaints and I wish Ballycran the very best of luck in the final.”

Slaughtneil have set new standards for other Ulster clubs with their unprecedented run of success over the past two seasons. But McShane believes that constant campaigning has left his players mentally tired.

“Ballycran are a very good team and they play a lovely brand of hurling so we knew we were in for a hell of a game today,” he said.

“Our performance was probably down to the fact that these guys have been on the go for four or five years now.

“The last three years in particular where they’re been going right through the winter to All-Ireland club football finals and hurling semi-finals and then 15 or 16 of them are involved in county panels and they’re straight into an inter-county season and (when it finishes) off they go again into the club season.

“You know what? Sometimes it can become a mental state that they get into as opposed to being physically tired.

“I think the lads have got to the end of the line and what we met today was a very hungry team, a very fresh team and all the things they were, we weren’t.

“I told our lads they owe nobody nothing and they can walk out with their heads held high.

“They’re all very disappointed but they have to go and get a good break, get away from the pitch and from the training and go and start being young fellas and enjoying life a wee bit.

“Next year will be a new year and they’ll come back refreshed. They won’t go away, they’re far from finished, the average age is 23-24 and they’ll be back.

“They just need a break and, unfortunately, they’re now going to get it. Hopefully they’ll make the most of that break and then 2019 will be a new year.”

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