Kilcoo manager Paul McIver wants to match Slaughtneil's Ulster final triumph
GOING into the Ulster final, Kilcoo and Slaughtneil have football and sheep-farming in common. On Sunday ‘the Magpies’ intend to add another by joining the Derry champions on the Ulster club championships roll of honour.
Manager Paul McIver says Kilcoo will give it “one hell of a go” as they look to land a first Ulster title against the 2014 provincial champions at Armagh’s Athletic Grounds. The Derry native expects a memorable tussle between two well-matched sides.
“I would know Slaughtneil inside-out, having played against them and been in round the Derry camp this last number of years,” said McIver.
“I know the work that they’ve put in. Sheep-farming and football are the things that take precedence in Kilcoo and I know around Slaughtneil they’re into their hard work and their football - that’s what takes precedence there. They’re two clubs that are very similar in everything that they do, so it’ll be interesting.”
Ballinderry native McIver came up against the likes of Francis McEldowney and Patsy Bradley during his playing days and coached several other stars from the Robert Emmet’s club during his time as Derry minor manager.
He knows them well, but Tyrone’s Killyclogher had former Slaughtneil coaches Eoin Bradley and John McElhone in their camp for the semi-final and their input had little impact on the day.
“I’ve played against quite a few of them - but not the younger breed,” said McIver.
“I was assistant to Martin McKinless in 2008 when we beat them in the championship and went the whole way to the Ulster final. Being from Ballinderry, we’ll have a lot of people who will give us a good insight into what’s happening.”
He added: “Finals can take on a life of their own - anything is possible.
“There’ll be players that we’ll be expecting to play really well who won’t play well but there’ll be other players who will step up to the mark and hopefully get us over the line. It’s going to be one hell of a game.”
At the start of this Ulster club campaign Slaughtneil and Kilcoo stood out as the sides with genuine championship pedigree. McIver admitted he expected to have to face Mickey Moran’s side to capture the Séamus McFerran Cup.
“Having been the only team left in the Ulster club that has won the Ulster club I suppose 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.”
Kilcoo have beaten Monaghan’s Scotstown, Donegal’s Glenswilly and Armagh champions Maghery to reach this stage. After each round McIver’s focus was on resting tired limbs ahead of the next hurdle.
“After every championship match we’ve given the boys a week off,” he said.
“They don’t go and party, there’ll be a number of recovery sessions set up - at the swimming pool and at the beach in Newcastle over the week and they’ll do a lot of video analysis themselves of their own performance and the management will go away and work on the opposition.”
McIver will sit in the stand on Sunday and leave the sideline to a management team that includes Paddy Murray, Sean Mick Johnston, Declan Morgan and Brian Lavery.
“For myself, it’s better [sitting in the stand] to see things on the pitch - you see a lot more, especially tactically, and it suits me and it serves me well,” he said.
“I’d rather have it up there away from the emotion of the game and to me that’s important. My job is to make changes and I think over the last number of weeks we’ve done well at that as a management team.
"You don’t see that along the sideline, so it has served us well.”