By Michael McMullan
MICHAEL McShane insists his Sleacht Néill players will be sick looking at the goalposts ahead of their final group game in the Senior Hurling Championship later this month.
The Emmet’s hit 18 wides in Sunday’s win over Lavey, but the Emmet’s manager wasn’t worried about their wayward shooting.
“We have three weeks until the next game and I was telling the boys they’ll be sick looking at the goals by the time the next game comes around,” McShane said of their planned shooting practice.
“We haven’t really pressed the accelerator on the training yet, the schedule is quite heavy with the two codes,” said McShane, who felt his side were “tired and leggy” at Owenbeg on Sunday.
The players are working hard on their fitness McShane insists, accepting the format of the football and hurling Championships running across each other from his time in the post since 2015.
It’s about getting the team ticking along when the business end comes around and they’ll qualify for the semi-finals if they get at least a draw with Swatragh at home in their next game.
“We had 18 wides and we want to be cutting that away down, but we still hit 2-21 and that’s good shooting,” McShane added, feeling his team should’ve been 12 points ahead at half time.
With six regulars absent – including attacking duo Cormac O’Doherty and Brendan Rogers – he was happy to see Peter McCullagh, Shea and Eamonn Cassidy among the scorers.
“We have been looking at these lads coming through the minor ranks in the last couple of years. We knew there was talent there,” McShane admitted.
“Jack (Cassidy) has made a few fleeting appearances last year. Eamonn (Cassidy) has come in there and it’s his first senior game, but I was pleased with them. I thought they played all well and Ruairi Ó Mianáin was excellent.
“We have known for a few years that Ruairi was coming through the system, we knew how talented he was. He has got a great temperament. It was his first senior championship game and it didn’t faze any of them to be fair.”
With Rogers, O’Doherty, Meehaul McGrath, Gerald Bradley, Sean ‘Tad’ Cassidy and Seán Ó Caiside all out injured, it gave the Sleacht Néill management team a chance to delve into their squad.
“It strengthens our panel and makes it deeper, when you think of the boys weren’t playing there and are injured…when they come back in, there is going to be a lot of competition for places,” McShane insists. “We have five or six lads who are all going to come back into the team, looking for a place. Jerome (McGuigan) didn’t start and when he came on, he did very well.
“We are in a very healthy place. By the next game with Swatragh, we’ll have four of the boys back.”
“It makes the decisions easier,” McShane said of his team selection in recent weeks.
“If I had Cormac and Brendan (fully fit), they would be banging my door down looking to play, but it gives a chance to those younger lads and I am very pleased with what I have seen.”