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GAA Football

Kilcar hoping to spring a surprise on Scotstown in Ulster club quarter-final

Kilcar celebrate their Donegal final win earlier this month. They go into provincial battle with Scotstown this weekend Picture by Michael O'Donnell
By Francis Mooney

KILCAR goalkeeper Eamonn McGinley is hoping the Donegal champions can bring an element of surprise to Sunday’s Ulster Club Senior Football Championship clash with Scotstown, despite the fact that his side is stacked with some of the game’s most famous players.

The McHugh clan and the McBrearty brothers are aces in the Towney pack, but the remaining cards have been tucked carefully to the chest.

A sterile Donegal championship final won’t have given much away either, other than the fact that Kilcar, for all their attacking riches, can be extremely difficult to break down.

“Nobody knows much about Kilcar. Alright, they know our county players, but they don’t know about the rest of us, but that’s something we can use to our advantage,” said McGinley.

The Donegal county final, which ended in a 0-7 to 0-4 win for Kilcar over Naomh Conaill, has been derided for its negativity and lack of adventure on the part of both sides.

The eventual winners ended a 24-year wait for a county title, and at the end of a turgid encounter, the silverware was all that mattered to them.

“Yeah, it was a poor game, there were plenty of comments in relation to how bad it was, but to the people that were on that field, it didn’t matter to anyone.

“I’ve seen all the reports, I think Joe Brolly had an opinion on it as well, but at the end of the day there was a photo taken of all of us with the trophy as well.

“Against Glenties, it was a 50-50 affair, nobody knew where it was going to go, and thankfully our superior firepower up front helped us get through it.”

McGinley, as the last line of defence, has a particular appreciation of the added protection he has been afforded this season.

And it’s all down to a collective decision by the players to shed their ‘nice guy’ image and embrace a more inhospitable approach.

“It’s something maybe that we’re known for, that we’re nice footballers, nice lads. But we know how to win dirty now, because that’s what it came to at the end of the day,” said the goalkeeper during the Ulster Council’s competition launch at Garvaghey.

“We just wanted that win so much more, especially after the hurt of last year, when after 23 years at that stage, we came so close and lost out by just a point.

“It came down to a tight game, and in other years we would have fallen apart, Glenties would have got their scores, we would have panicked.

“But we don’t have that fear any more, we’re making a good go of it.”

Established forces such as Slaughtneil and Scotstown are the fancied teams this year, but for the handful of clubs reappearing after around a quarter-of-a-century away, hope and ambition are real and heartfelt.

“We’re going to take this as serious as anyone that’s in the championship. We have the same quality of players as all of those teams.

“We have the three McHughs, the McBreartys, my own brother Ciaran, who has spent time with the county set-up.

“We have some serious players, and we’ll take it every bit as serious as any of the other teams up there.”

To make the challenge all the more difficult for the underdog, Kilcar must travel to Clones to face the Monaghan champions on their familiar county ground.

But for McGinley, to play at one of Gaelic football’s iconic venues is an opportunity to realise a dream.

“It will be nice, it’s something I have never experienced myself, nice to get away to a big ground like that. I’ve been there as a fan, so it will be nice to be on the other end of it, on the field.”

But a sense of occasion will be tempered by the seriously difficult task of competing with the seasoned provincial force that is Scotstown, Monaghan champions for a third successive season.

“They have some serious talent in that team. I think Conor McCarthy scored 1-8 in the final, that’s some serious firepower there alone,” he said.

“And Rory Beggan, what he brings to the game as well, not just an excellent goalkeeper, but a man than kick from 50, 60 metres out, so that’s something we’re going to have to watch out for as well, as regards our discipline, our tackling.”

AIB ULSTER CLUB SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Quarter-finals

Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) v Armagh Harps (Armagh) (October 28, Brewster Park, 7pm)

Slaughtneil (Derry) v Omagh (Tyrone) (October 28, Celtic Park, 7pm)

Cavan Gaels (Cavan) v Lamh Dhearg (Antrim) (October 29, Kingspan Breffni, 2.30pm)

Scotstown (Monaghan) v Kilcar (Donegal) (October 29, Clones, 2.30pm)

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