Champions Slaughtneil ready for Ulster club battle

Dual player Cormac O'Doherty is struggling for fitness ahead of Slaughtneil's Ulster SFC quarter-final against Scotstown
Dual player Cormac O'Doherty is struggling for fitness ahead of Slaughtneil's Ulster SFC quarter-final against Scotstown
Ulster club SFC quarter-finals
Date: Sunday, 1 November Throw-in: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Radio Ulster MW 1341 from 14:00 and coverage on BBC Sport website.

Dual Derry club Slaughtneil put their Ulster SFC title on the line in a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against Scotstown in Clones on Sunday.

Cormac O'Doherty, one of the club's 13 players who lost last week's Ulster hurling final to Cushendall after extra-time, is their only injury doubt.

The clash will be the 14th game in 12 weeks for Slaughtneil's dual players.

Elsewhere, Crossmaglen begin the quest for an 11th Ulster title in 20 years against Antrim champions Cargin.

Slaughtneil opened their Ulster title defence with a comfortable win over Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly two weeks ago, but O'Doherty is struggling with a calf injury picked up in the Ulster hurling final last week.

"He is very stiff with a calf problem but even if he can't start, we might be able to bring him on, and we'd be confident we have the resources if we need to make a change," said assistant manager John Joe Kearney.

Kearney insisted fatigue is not a factor for the players despite their punishing schedule.

"Provided you've no injuries, then playing one game each week should do you no harm.

"Without doubt the hurling title was a big one, because no Derry club has ever done it, but the players have had a week to get over it and it's gone.

"They have combined the two codes all year with a good deal of success, and hopefully they can take it a step further at least."

Monaghan champions Scotstown are backboned by county stars Kieran and Darren Hughes and are rated as serious challengers.

Cargin are also hopeful of pulling off an upset against six-time All-Ireland champions Crossmaglen.

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McCann confident of Cargin upset

They were recently crowned Antrim champions for the first time since 2006 and are managed by John Brennan, who has won county SFC titles in Derry with Lavey and Slaughtneil, with Carrickmore (Tyrone) as well as back-to-back Antrim championships with Cargin in 1999 and 2000.

His track record in club football suggests Crossmaglen should be braced for a huge challenge from a side which ended St Gall's eight-year domination in Antrim at the semi-final stage.

His only championship defeat in charge of Cargin was a one-point defeat to Crossmaglen in 1999 (they were prevented from representing Antrim in 2000) and when he led Slaughtneil to the Derry title in 2004, it was Cross who dumped them out after a replay.

Tempting as it may be, the man who managed Derry in 2011 and 2012 has insisted Sunday's clash is not a revenge mission.

"The Crossmaglen team is smaller and more athletic now, as is Cargin's," said Brennan.

"There are different personalities all over the pitch on both sides.

Long-serving manager John Brennan has won county SFC titles with clubs in Derry, Tyrone and Antrim
Long-serving manager John Brennan has won county SFC titles with clubs in Derry, Tyrone and Antrim

"We played exceptionally well against St Gall's this year. We'll need to get back to our best form to beat Crossmaglen, and we are capable of it.

"I know Crossmaglen have the pedigree and great experience, but man for man we feel we are just as good."

Three-in-a-row Down champions Kilcoo are hot favourites to defeat Kingscourt to progress to a semi-final against Crossmaglen or Cargin.

Donegal and Tyrone clubs have a poor record in the competition, something Glenties and Trillick will hope to change when they face each other in Ballybofey.

The winners will take on either Scotstown or Slaughtneil in the last four.

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