Kilcoo bidding for All-Ireland glory this weekend
THE village of Kilcoo will witness a mass exodus like never before as its footballers bid for All-Ireland glory.
"There's about 1,000 people in the parish and I'd say over 900 will be at the match," said Kilcoo vice-chairman Michael Kane.
The Down side are hoping to re-write the club's 113-year history books when they attempt to clinch their first All-Ireland club senior football title at Croke Park tomorrow.
A clash against Corofin from Galway is all that stands in front of them.
Mr Kane said buses and countless cars are all set to leave the village to make the journey to Dublin to proudly cheer on Mickey Moran's men.
"There won't be too many left in the parish," he said.
"The team bus is due to leave at 10.30am and then we have two supporter buses leaving shortly after. Then there's a Down supporters bus as well as people in their cars.
"Many people don't like to break with tradition by getting the bus and stick to the car and then there's many who will head down the night before."
The village has become a sea of black and white in recent weeks with volunteers out in force to ensure that club flags and bunting are festooned on lamp posts and street corners.
A large banner, which reads 'Up the Magpies' also adorns one of the streets, while the pupils of St Malachy's Primary School have been throwing their weight behind the team.
"There's a good buzz around the village," said Mr Kane.
"It's a small village, but there's been some craic already, especially if you're in the shop, there's a real buzz.
"We have the village decorated, there's LED signs, 12ft by 8ft, it's a bit like Times Square."
As Down and Ulster champions, the Magpies are following in the footsteps of St Mary's Burren as the only Down club to win the coveted Andy Merrigan Cup.
Their aim, to bridge the 32-year gap since Burren last brought the title back to the Mournes, took a giant leap forward earlier this month when they secured a memorable win over Leinster champions, Ballyboden St Enda's.
But standing in their way are defending champions Corofin, who are hoping to complete an unprecedented three in a row of national senior titles and mark their fourth victory in just six years.
And while Corofin may be the bookie's favourites to clinch the title, the tight-knit community of Kilcoo are not prepared to let that get in the way of their side's quest for victory.
Buoyed by the team's rise through the footballing ranks this season, the excitement of the impending final is evident in the village.
Mr Kane said the community are united in their hope that dreams can come true.
"It's the club's first final, it has been a great achievement on its own to get this far," said Mr Kane.
"When we won the Ulster title, we had been knocking on the door for a long time, and to achieve that this year was great. We partied hard, but the team buckled down straight away and the All-Ireland was the next step.
"The club is 113-years-old and to get here for the first time is a massive achievement.
"Whatever the result, we will welcome the team home on Sunday night regardless. Hopefully we will grasp the opportunity."