GAA Football

Shane McConville gave Maghery their day in the sun

 Maghery's Aidan Forker comes under pressure from Kilcoo's Aaron Morgan and Felim McGreevy
Andy Watters at Pairc Esler

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AS Shane McConville watched his players troop off the pitch yesterday a fan approached and shook his hand.

“Thanks Shane,” she told the Maghery manager, “You gave us our days in the sun”.

No doubt about that. This year McConville has propelled the Sean McDermott’s club to their first Armagh title and their first win in the Ulster senior championship, but their run was brought to a shuddering halt by ruthless Kilcoo yesterday.

The Down champions were too fit, too strong, too quick, just too good for a Maghery side that had to struggle to stay in touch for most of the first half before the dismissal of Aidan Forker made an increasingly difficult task virtually impossible.

The Armagh skipper was shown a straight red card by referee Joe McQuillan for an alleged strike on Niall Branagan after his team had been awarded a tap-over free in front of the Kilcoo posts.

McConville didn’t want Forker to be used as a scapegoat for the 13-point drubbing.

“The last thing I want is this report to end up that Aidan Forker gets the blame for this,” he said.

“The game was already heading for a very tough game with 15 players. Yes, he was foolish and he got conned into something and it is something he will have to live with, that’s fine, but don’t make it any worse on him.

“Maghery were outplayed, probably outclassed and that’s experience for you. Coming here it wasn’t going to be easy. I did talk Maghery up, that’s the manager’s job, but I have no regrets here. Kilcoo were 10-points better than us in my opinion.”

McConville said Kilcoo’s depth of experience in Ulster competition – this is their fifth season on-the-trot at provincial level – had an impact yesterday. The Magpies took no time to settle and went about their business like the experienced campaigners they are.

“Even from a management point of view, it’s an experience for me as well,” he said.

“I have to learn to be sharper on the line, to be quicker to make changes, to be a bit more astute.

“I am sure Paul McIver’s know-how didn’t grow on him sitting in the house. He learned from somewhere as well, he probably learned from his father (former Derry manager Brian).

“Those things happen, we were just outplayed and we have absolutely no excuses.”

McConville has followed Kilcoo’s fortunes since his friend Jim McCorry, a clubmate at Lurgan side St Paul’s, became manager. McCorry took the side to the Ulster final in 2012 before passing on the reins to McIver, and McConville wants to see ‘the Magpies’ go on and win their first Ulster title.

“I’ve followed them through my friend Jim McCorry and I’ve seen them mediocre enough in the early parts of this current campaign,” he said.

“Five years ago I’m sure their first outing in Ulster wasn’t all that impressive but as the years have gone on they’ve learned how to play in Ulster.

“The Crossmaglen factor is away now and I’m sure they’ve got bigger and brighter things ahead of them and, from my point of view, I hope to God they win it.”

Kilcoo go on to an Ulster final against Derry’s Slaughtneil while Maghery’s race is run – for now. McConville expects the club to be contenders for the Armagh title again next year, but he may not be in the dugout.

“You wouldn’t know what I would do,” he said

“I could be back with my own club managing the U12 team. I’m not into CVs or whatever, I’ll take a week or two and reflect on it.

“There’s another couple of championships in this team no doubt about it and hopefully that’s what they will achieve.”

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