Chances won't keep coming for Slaughtneil, warns McKaigue
As is the way of things in Slaughtneil, there hasn't been a moment to reflect on what has been. There is just too much important stuff coming down the track for that.
The club's All-Ireland club SHC semi-final defeat to Na Piarsaigh a fortnight ago still stings. Playing against 13 men offered them a real chance to make a first club hurling decider but for the second year in a row, they fell short at the penultimate hurdle.
And dual player Karl McKaigue isn't hiding from the fact that they left a big chance to reach an All-Ireland final behind them.
"Once you have the football to focus on it sort of helps get the mind back on track again, but definitely that feeling still we have left one behind us," he sighed.
"It's probably something you'd never really prepare for, having two extra men playing against a team. We probably didn't make use of our spare men. We sort of hemmed and hawed about using a sweeper.
"We wanted to try and get scores on the board as well and we sort of ended up getting caught in between and doing nothing."
With Nemo Rangers and yet another All-Ireland club semi-final on the horizon tomorrow afternoon, they have had to park that loss quickly.
They travel to Portlaoise's O'Moore Park to take on the Cork kingpins as they bid to reach their third All-Ireland club final in four seasons.
While they were well beaten in their first final appearance against Corofin, they fell short by just two points to Kerry's Dr Crokes last March despite playing the entire second half with just 14 men.
And McKaigue admits that defeat still hurts.
"Probably top of the list," he replied, when asked where that final defeat ranked in terms of heartache.
"If you are in an All-Ireland final in the first half, your tails are up, you've just scored a goal and I think we were two or three up at that stage. Then we were hit with that red card and next thing it comes crashing down.
"You are trying to keep things tight but you can't influence the scoreboard at the other end.
"Against Crokes last year they went out and did what they had to do, they didn't come out and blitz us in the second half with the extra man.
"They kept it very measured and calm and always had a spare man at the back and done enough to win the game.
"We kept things well at the back but we could never score enough to really trouble them. It was very disappointing; much more so than the All-Ireland defeat of 2015 to Corofin. That day we weren't competitive. There was 10 points in it, eight at half-time and you can't really be too disappointed because you never really looked like winning it. But certainly that Dr Crokes game was there for the taking and very hard to take to this day."
They are nothing if not resilient however and have worked their way back to the All-Ireland semi-final stage once more. And he warned that the club may not get too many more chances to get over the line.
"Younger lads are coming into our senior team and we are getting to this stage every year and they are thinking, 'It will eventually come some year,' but eventually you will get nipped somewhere down the line.
"You have to try and make the most of each chance you get, because last year we left it behind us a wee bit. We have a good chance of getting back to a final only, we are not looking past Nemo.
"We will try and rectify the wrongs of last year, but it will take a tremendous effort to try and get over Nemo because we've already seen what they done to Dr Crokes this year. They blew them out of the water and could have won by a lot more so we'll be up against it."
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