Brendan Rogers ready for Derry call despite Slaughtneil disappointment
DESPITE the devastation of Slaughtneil’s All-Ireland semi-final exit, Brendan Rogers insists he is ready and raring to for Derry’s National League opener against Down on Saturday evening.
The dual star took the fight to Ballygunner on Sunday as the Emmet’s lost out to the Munster champions, but is ready to revert to defensive duty for Rory Gallagher’s side if called upon.
Having been on the club and county treadmill for such a prolonged period of time, given Slaughtneil’s success, nobody could argue that Rogers has earned a rest.
But the 27-year-old sees no point in stopping now, and immediately declared himself available as the newly-promoted Oak Leafs aim to get their Division Two campaign off to a winning start in the Ulster derby clash at Owenbeg.
“I’ll turn straightaway to that,” he said.
“Whether I’m selected or not is another thing, but I’ll be making myself available. There’s no point taking time off now… I don’t see the point in licking wounds and looking back on myself.
“Just move on.”
And yet there will undoubtedly be a period of reflection for Rogers and the rest of the Slaughtneil hurlers after slow starts to both halves proved costly at Parnell Park.
That was the fourth time they have tried to crack the All-Ireland semi-final code, falling short on each occasion. And Rogers admits Sunday’s defeat to the Waterford kingpins was a more difficult pill to swallow than the dramatic 2020 loss to reigning champions Ballyhale Shamrocks at the same stage.
“I would say this is tougher to take.
“The Ballyhale game was something we wanted to get to, where as this time we felt we were already competitive to be there, and we still came up short.
“We can take pride from the Ballyhale game because we got to a level for some period of the game and ultimately didn’t get there, but this time… we don’t take any consolation out of losing this game. There’s no pats on the back for getting there any more for us.
“I don’t think we can have any complaints about Ballygunner winning because they were probably the better team. The small things that fell for them perfectly didn’t for us- the likes of the goal chances, they had a big bearing on the game. It’s a great start to get and put them in a really good position in the second half.
“It gave them that bit of a comfort zone and meant we had to go for it that wee bit more instead of picking our points. It’s a tough one to take given it was such a good battle.”
And Rogers wasn’t about to start making excuses either.
Having had a clear run at hurling since Slaughtneil footballers’ Derry final defeat to rivals Glen on November 7, Michael McShane’s men came into Sunday’s semi-final confident of upsetting the odds.
“That’s the way it is, that’s sport,” he said.
“You can’t win them all the time. If we were exposed to more quality hurling like they’re capable of, we might have learned a few things to give us that edge in those games.
“We hurled pretty well [on the way to the Derry title] last year and it would’ve been nice to play it [Ulster], but I don’t think that hampered us going into this year. I would say we would probably have got a good run in the football last year too so it might have been so much different again.
“This year we got a good rattle at it in terms of time, single code… we can have no complaints.”