GAA Football

Kilcoo have to improve to win first Ulster crown says Conor Laverty

In the thick of the action. Kilcoo's Conor Laverty comes under pressure from Maghery's Niall Forker and Gerard Campbell in Sunday's Ulster club championship semi-final at Pairc Esler

KILCOO will have to improve on what they produced against Maghery to snare the club's first Ulster title said Conor Laverty after Sunday's one-sided semi-final win.

‘The Magpies' had 13 points to spare against the Armagh champions who self-destructed just before the break when experienced forward Aidan Forker was red-carded.

Despite the ease of their victory, Laverty says improvements will have to be made for the November 27 decider against Derry's Slaughtneil – Ulster champions in 2014.

“Slaughtneil are an extremely good team,” said former Down star Laverty.

“Their club has done terrific this year in all codes and it's going to be a massive task so we know the challenge ahead of us.

“Over the next fortnight it'll be trying to get the body recovered and then get back down to getting a bit of work done. You want to enjoy the build-up, this is where every team wants to be playing so we'll enjoy the couple of weeks and we'll work hard.

“We're looking forward to the challenge that Slaughtneil are going to pose and without a doubt we'll have to improve on what we showed today.

“Today's performance won't beat Slaughtneil and over the next couple of weeks we have a lot of improving to do.”

Laverty doesn't catch the eye for his finishing these days – he has scored one point in three Ulster championship games - but he plays his part in Kilcoo's attacking plays, particularly when it really matters.

Kilcoo's showdown with Scotstown in the first round of the Ulster championship was a case in point. ‘The Magpies' was struggling to assert themselves until Laverty dropped deep to get on the ball and drive them to their first score.

On Sunday he won free after free in the first half as he drew fouls from the Maghery defence. Paul Devlin tapped them over the Armagh champions' crossbar to set a familiar pattern into motion in which Kilcoo methodically build up a lead and then kill the opposition off with a flurry of goals.

“It's a team game and it's just about the team getting the scores,” said Laverty.

“That's all we worry about.

“We got the result that we wanted and we performed well in spells but we still have more to improve on. We knew that Maghery were a quality side but thankfully the breaks went our way today – on another day it could have different.”

Kilcoo completed five in-a-row in Down this year and are now the Mourne county's most successful club with 15 senior titles. Ulster's blue-riband prize – the Seamus McFerran Cup – has eluded them up to now but Laverty agrees that these are heady days for ‘the Magpies'.

“This is an exciting time for our club,” he agreed.

“The structures and the coaching that went on in the club over the past number of years is showing out on the field of play.

“The seeds were planted 15-20 years ago and it was great men then who started this. There are a lot of young coaches in the club now carrying on the good work.”

Meanwhile, Laverty's Trinity College Dublin side take on Sligo IT in the Ryan Cup on Thursday night.

“That's a very important game,” he said.

“There'll be a challenge match and then we'll take Sligo on, so there'll be full focus on that.”

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