Hurling and camogie

Slaughtneil boss McShane expects Dunloy to be 'hell-bent on getting revenge'

Michael McShane's Slaughtneil will do battle with Antrim champions Dunloy on December 4 after beating Portaferry in Sunday's Ulster semi-final at Corrogan Park. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

AIB Ulster SHC semi-final: St Patrick’s, Portaferry (Down) 0-11 Robert Emmet’s, Slaughtneil (Derry) 2-24

SLAUGHTNEIL and Michael McShane know exactly the hunger ambitious Antrim champions Dunloy will bring to this year’s Ulster final – because not so long ago it was them trying to break through the provincial glass ceiling.

The Emmet’s fell at the final hurdle against Loughgiel in 2013 and Cushendall two years later, before finally seeing off Loughgiel in the 2016 decider. They haven’t looked back since, following up that maiden triumph by lifting the Four Seasons Cup in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

A routine victory over Portaferry yesterday set Slaughtneil on course for a third Ulster title in-a-row (there was no championship in 2020), but having seen off Dunloy on the way to those last two Ulster crowns – and at the semi-final stage in 2017 - another ferocious battle is anticipated on December 4.

Gregory O’Kane’s Cuchullain’s swept to a fourth Antrim title in-a-row when they defeated Cushendall last month, and are continuing to improve year on year.

McShane knows Dunloy will be coming with everything to try and rip the trophy from Slaughtneil’s grasp.

“I am expecting another very tough game,” said the Ballycastle man.

“We have beaten them the last three times we have played them in the Ulster Championship and I know that has been very sore on them. They will be hell-bent on revenge and getting one over on us.

“I used to say to the Slaughtneil lads ‘you bang on the door long enough, you will get in’, and Dunloy will be thinking that. But we are very determined this year to win a third in-a-row.

“The biggest compliment I can give these Slaughtneil lads is that they realise they are riding the crest of a wave, and it won’t be that way forever.

“They are hell-bent on winning as much as they can in football and hurling and have shown no sign this year of suppression of their appetite. If anything, I have seen it getting better with the young boys coming in.”

And while there was a gulf in quality at Corrigan Park yesterday as Slaughtneil had 19 points to spare against the Down champions, McShane insists that – with challenge games hard to come by at this time of year – and competitive action was welcomed.

“We have had one game, you would have loved to have three or four.

“That’s why I was delighted we were playing a semi-final this year, instead of what Dunloy are doing with no game and straight into the final.

“That game today, albeit that we won it fairly handy in the end, is worth 10 training sessions. I know when we go out on Tuesday night, I will see a sharpness in the players that wasn’t there last Thursday night, because of that game.”

Hurling and camogie