GAA Football

Paul McIver's Kilcoo edge closer to first Ulster title

Kilcoo’s Ryan Johnston celebrates after scoring a goal in yesterday’s 13-point win over Maghery in the AIB Club SFC semi-final clash at Pairc Esler, Newry. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Andy Watters at Pairc Esler

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KILCOO are one step away from a first Ulster title and they want to be remembered as winners says manager Paul McIver.

‘The Magpies’ take on Slaughtneil in two weeks’ time and McIver says his side have to finish the job on November 27 against Slaughtneil. “You have to do the business,” said McIver.

“Nobody will remember us in 10 years time if we lose this final. We are there and there on merit.

We’ve been through some big battles and we’ll give it one more big push in the final and see where it takes us but we have one hell of a challenge.

“Slaughtneil are going for an amazing bit of history themselves to be one of the first clubs to have ever done (Ulster) camogie, hurling and football so there is a burning desire as well.” 

Maghery had managed to stay in touch against the Down champions until close to half-time when Aidan Forker’s combative instincts boiled over and he was red-carded by referee Joe McQuillan. 

The loss of the Armagh skipper was a bodyblow the Sean McDermott’s side were unable to recover from.

“I never saw it but I actually thought Ryan Johnston’s goal was the turning point in the game,” said McIver.

“He decided to drop the shoulder and go past the boy and it gave us a bit of breathing space going in at half time but I suppose yes, the sending-off did help things in the end.”

Kilcoo cantered home by 13 points but McIver rejected the suggestion that the ease of their victory might count against his side in the final against Derry’s Slaughtneil who were Ulster champions in 2014.

“I think if you beat Scotstown, Glenswilly, Burren and the Armagh champions today, then we’ve lot of wars underneath our belt at this stage so no, I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” he said, before admitting that he had expected a tougher test from a Maghery outfit that struggled to produce their best.

“We had watched a lot of videos of them and any team that comes out of Armagh, you’d expect a big battle,” he said.

“But look, we’ve been down that road five years in-a-row now. These players are on a mission and no matter what is thrown in front of them, they’re going to give it one hell of a go.

“Maghery have a number of talented individuals but there’s three or four boys who are only children, 18 and 19 years of age. 

“Our boys have in the gym and have put in the hours over the last five years.

“You don’t come from nowhere to get into an Ulster semi-final, you have to put in that hard work and Kilcoo have done that over this last five, six, seven, eight years.”

Now McIver will plan for a showdown against Slaughtneil, the other team in this year’s Ulster competition with an established championship pedigree.

“Having been the only team in the Ulster club that has won the Ulster club I would have expected them to be in the final and for them to be the team that we would have to come up against,” he said.

“They won the Ulster club two years ago so we know what’s in front of us.”

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