Slaughtneil - an inspiration to every other GAA club in Ireland 2 months ago

Slaughtneil - an inspiration to every other GAA club in Ireland

Most clubs don't win at all.

A county championship is a faraway dream at the start of the year but that's what it remains until the very end. All things considered, a win or two in the championship will keep them happy and once they stave away relegation, do you know what, they don't really have too much to complain about.

They'll get on with their lot, look back at the things that went right and the things that didn't but after it all, they'll come back again next year with things to build on and that club won't be in a bad place at all.

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And that's the state of play for nearly three quarters of the clubs on this island. Could be a lot better, but still enjoying it.

Slaughtneil GAC used to be like the rest of us. Prior to 2004, they'd never ever won a county senior football championship. Prior to 2014, they'd never won an Ulster.

But somewhere around that time, things began to change in Slaughtneil. They didn't suddenly benefit from a big increase in population to change their fortunes - there are still only 300 houses in the little parish at the foot of the Glenshane mountains - but every single one of them started working together.

The GAA club became the absolute centre of the community - and nothing else would take away from it - kids and their parents would be down there every second night, the kids practising, the parents all giving a helping hand be it through coaching or through organising.

And how it has paid off.

In the last few years, the Derry club have become an inspiration for every other club in the country, not only with what they have won, but in how they have done it too.

Men like Chrissy McKaigue and Patsy Bradley and women like Shannon Graham, Grainne O'Kane and Siobhán Bradley have led them to glory but the way they talk about their community, their teammates and about the pride of it all just sums them up and sums up what every other club Ireland wants to be.

"I genuinely just think it is the attitudes of people in the club, everyone buys into the same ethos. Slaughtneil itself is a small, rural Derry club but full of people with passion and heart for GAA and all the one culture. I think with all those ingredients, it bodes well. We suffered through a lot of heartache in all codes for so many years and we’ve learned from them and now, thankfully, we’ve produced the goods and hopefully, it lasts. We want to keep winning," said the camógs' joint captain Siobhan Bradley to us before Sunday's All-Ireland final.

On a horrendous Sunday for hurling in Croke Park, their camógs went out and did exactly that. With the rain pelting down on top of them and the women of St Martin's, they fought hard and they stepped up when it mattered, winning out on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-7.

That would be their third Carroll Cup in the last three years and when you consider that Derry are traditionally an intermediate county, that makes it even more admirable.

Their story is unbelievable and we really should all admire and appreciate them.

Since 2013, Slaughtneil's men and women have won

  • 3 All-Ireland senior camogie titles  (2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019)
  • 3 Ulster senior camogie titles (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • 3 Derry senior camogie titles (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • 6 Derry senior hurling championships (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • 2 Ulster senior hurling championships (2016, 2017)
  • 3 Ulster senior football championships (2014, 2016, 2017)
  • 4 Derry senior football championships (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Amazing stuff.