If Slaughtneil win the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s Day it will wrap up the greatest club season ever according to Tyrone legend Philip Jordan.
Jordan, a three-time All-Ireland winner with the Red Hand County, will be an interested observer when the Derry and Ulster champions take on Kerry’s Dr Crokes at Croke Park on Friday.
Slaughtneil’s camogie team recently captured their All-Ireland at GAA Headquarters and the club’s hurlers only lost in the All-Ireland semi-final to Cuala of Dublin having already won their half of the Ulster double.
“As an Ulster man I would love to see them winning it,” said Jordan. “It would be a pity to see their season end with a defeat. We don’t get what we deserve in life or in sport, but I think Slaughtneil deserve to win this one.
“If they do manage to win it, it would definitely go down as the greatest club season of all-time. They are a remarkable community and they have an incredible spirit - that stands out a mile.
“For their camogie team to win the All-Ireland, the hurlers to win Ulster and their footballers to have a shot at an All-Ireland is the stuff of dreams,” continued Jordan.
“For me, Chrissy McKaigue’s performance in the All-Ireland semi-final win over St Vincent’s told me everything about the club and the community. He was marking Diarmuid Connolly, one of the best players in the country, and he outscored him four points to one.
“He just refused to accept defeat. If he can produce anything like that level of leadership again they will be very hard to beat.”
Dr Crokes of Kerry are the club of the great Colm Cooper and an All-Ireland club medal is pretty much the only honour missing from his extensive collection. They won it in 1992 when the eight-year-old Gooch was team mascot.
Both sides have experience of having been in the final before, though Slaughtneil’s 2015 appearance is notably more recent than Crokes’ 2007 defeat to Crossmaglen Rangers following a replay.
“I watched both semi-finals and was surprised to see both underdogs winning,” noted Jordan. The Kerry outfit beat Galway’s Corofin in the last four - the side that beat Slaughtneil in the 2015 final.
“Dr Crokes definitely have the bigger names, particularly up front, and Slaughtneil’s challenge is trying to stop them. They weren’t fit to cope with Corofin’s movement on the wide open spaces of Croke Park a few years ago so it will be interesting to see what they do.”
Throw-in in the football final is at 5.0pm on Friday evening, following on from the hurling final between Ballyea of Clare and Dublin’s Cuala, which throws in at Croke Park at 3.0pm.
Slaughtneil came close to winning an All-Ireland double this year - a feat that no club has ever managed. The closest was St Finbarr’s from Cork in 1981, when they lost the hurling final to Kilkenny powerhouse Ballyhale, but beat Meath’s Walterstown in the football decider.