Derry SFC: Is it to be third time lucky for Slaughtneil?

Chrissy McKaigue and brother Karl will likely both start for Slaughtneil. 
Chrissy McKaigue and brother Karl will likely both start for Slaughtneil. 

What do the Derry Senior Football Championship and a bonfire in the Arctic have in common? 

They’re both slow burners.

Maybe the manufacturers of Penguin bar wrappers will come calling for that one. Probably not though…

In August, the championship begins. The buzz fills the air. It’s back. Rivals clash.

And then they clash again the following week. And the week after that. The winter draws in and the air gets as thin as the patience. 

The smell of championship is gone as quickly as it came. You’ve gone nose blind, and this time Febreeze can’t save you.

But perhaps Glen and Slaughtneil can. The big dogs on the big stage, and not before time.

A championship that fails to fizzle only tells you so much. The Glen wins of 2021 and 2022 are perhaps more relevant. 

Last year, the talk was all of Conor Glass, while beside him Emmett Bradley wreaked havoc on the QT.

And in their quarter-final victory, 14 of their 15 All-Ireland final runners-up started once more. A daunting prospect awaits Slaughtneil.

Undoubtedly, they will have learned from their mistakes. The outlined duo of Glass and Bradley will not have so much freedom with Brendan Rogers and Páidí Cassidy for company. 

The more experienced members can draw from the 2019 Derry SFC final win over Glen. Ruairí Ó’Mianain, one of the many talented hurlers around Slaughtneil, has also been exceptional from wing-back. 

But that was a Glen team who had never won a county title. Watty Graham was but a name for the history gurus outside of Derry. And inside of it, they always had that Everest hanging over them. 

Not any more.

Should Slaughtneil gain parity around the middle, it may well release Shane McGuigan to play closer to goal, but that will be easier said than done against a Glen side fond of short kickouts.

If the quarters are anything to go by, this promises to be another tight affair, but it would be heart over head stuff to doubt Malachy O’Rourke’s men on the big occasion.