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Slaughtneil Getting 'Closer And Closer' To Big Semi-Final Victory

Slaughtneil Getting 'Closer And Closer' To Big Semi-Final Victory
By PJ Browne

Through the club's three previous All-Ireland semi-final appearances, there has been a steady progression from Slaughtneil. In 2017, they lost by 13 points to a Cuala side on their way to winning consecutive titles. The following year, there were seven points between them and Na Piarsaigh. Two years ago, they lost to eventual champions Ballyhale by just five points.

"From our first venture to our third one, we have got closer and closer," says Slaughtneil captain Cormac O'Doherty ahead of this Sunday's fourth big day out, this time against Waterford champions Ballygunner.

"[The Na Piarsaigh game] was a big learning experience for us. Cuala had given us a lesson in Armagh the year before.

"Na Piarsaigh showed all their experience, all their class that day, and we were found wanting. You could see we weren't ready for that level when it came down to it, and they showed us we still had a bit to go.

"Nobody expects to win a game at this level with 30 or 40 good minutes. It has to be a 65-minute performance. We had 35 against Na Piarsaigh. Ballyhale was closer to what we want but this time it'll have to be 65 minutes because we've seen how good [Ballygunner] are. We'll have to be on it for the whole game if we want to match them."

19 January 2022; Slaughtneil hurler Cormac O'Doherty pictured ahead of his side's AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final against Ballygunner of Waterford. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

In early November, Slaughtneil lost the Derry football final to neighbours Glen, a bitter defeat to swallow. Though, it was made easier to digest when they beat Ballycran in the Ulster hurling final last month.

"It has been a big advantage on that front, to dedicate the time to hurling only," says O'Doherty.

"You see players improving weekly in training. It's just, is that five or six weeks enough to get us to the required level? We don't know. We'll only find out on Sunday.


"We've seen what [Ballygunner have] done through Waterford the last eight years and Munster too. This year they've been very impressive again. I suppose it's just about bringing our game to it. A high work-rate, trying to perform ourselves. If we worry too much about Ballygunner we'll forget about ourselves so we're focused on ourselves to bring our best performance to see where that takes us."

This Sunday, January 23rd, sees another weekend of thrilling club action in store in the AIB GAA Club Championships as the final four teams remaining in the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championships prepare to lay it all on the line for a place in the final at Croke Park. The first of the semi-finals will get underway at 1:30pm when Waterford champions, Ballygunner face Slaughtneil of Derry at Parnell Park, Dublin, while it's a 3.30pm throw-in for Galway champions, St Thomas' against current holders, Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Both games will be broadcast live on TG4, with coverage of the first semi-final getting underway at 1pm, while coverage of the second semi-final will start at 3:10pm.

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