Slaughtneil manager Michael McShane. Pic by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile.
Slaughtneil have plenty more left to offer insists manager Michael McShane.
While not pointing any fingers at any of his players, the dejected Emmet’s boss said the concession of two game-changing goals was ‘inexplicable’ and the game was lost in those five-minute spells at the start of each half.
Two years after going down (2-24 to 2-19) to Ballyhale Shamrocks they were five points adrift of a Ballygunner team who qualified for a first ever All-Ireland final.
McShane – who wished the Waterford giants every success in the final – said the facts suggest that the Derry champions are ‘standing still’ but he disagrees.
“This team has improved, that’s a very good Ballygunner team,” he said minutes after Sunday’s defeat.
“The players will have to digest this one and see where they are over the next few weeks and months.
“That Slaughtneil team have many, many more good years in them if they want it. I’m not going to question their appetite or ask how they feel about that. Nobody wants to talk about that right now.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them; they left everything out there for their club today. We’re very proud to have won another Derry, another Ulster, but ultimately this was where we wanted to do be, and we wanted to win today. We’ve had enough glorious performances that end in defeat – this is another one.”
Striping down the game, McShane lamented how his side had to ‘chase’ Ballygunner after Billy O’Keefe’s fourth minute goal opened a 1-2 to 0-0 lead before a Slaughtneil could make any imprint on Sunday’s classic.
“We had to try and go for goals when we could’ve maybe been tagging on points in the last 10-12 minutes,” he said.
The Emmet’s were ‘happy’ with their lot at half-time, trailing by two points. McShane felt his side had both the strength and power to take their title challenge to the 65th minute, highlighting the impact of Jack Cassidy when sprung from the bench,
“Five minutes into the second half we were very badly positioned because we were six points down and that’s a mountain to climb against a very good team,” said McShane who hailed his team’s character.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” when their gallant comeback was highlighted. “That Slaughtneil team, that’s what they’re about. You saw it at the end, they were still busting themselves to get in there and get a goal.
“Other teams would probably have downed tools at that stage, taken their beating and ended up losing by nine or 10 points.
"These lads aren’t like that, they take serious pride in themselves and their club and they will fight until the bitter end. It doesn’t matter what the scoreline, they have pride in the jersey and pride in the club.”
Shane McGuigan did register a late goal, but McShane pointed to the value of it coming 10 minutes earlier as they came probing for a way back into the game. It would’ve given them something to build on in those frantic final moments.
“We changed up the formation, we were playing with a plus one at the back, we abandoned that, pushed Gerald (Bradley) forward, Cormac (O’Doherty) forward and started to get a bit more punch up front.
McShane commented on Ballygunner’s two late yellow cards as being ‘very cute’ as they stopped Shane McGuigan in his tracks as Slaughtneil carried the fight to Ballygunner.
“They were just not going to concede goals. We still got through, Meehaul (McGrath) took a good save out of (Stephen) O’Keefe, Shane got in for one, we were nearly in for another one…but look, it just all came too late.”
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