Burren boss Paddy O'Rourke admires Kilcoo consistency
Morgan Fuels Down Senior Football Championship
PADDY O’Rourke is one of a select group of men who know what it is to lift the Frank O’Hare Cup six years in-a-row. He knows the confidence and camaraderie that comes with such a remarkable trail of success.
The 1991 All-Ireland winning captain was a mainstay of the Burren team that swept all before them during a glorious spell between 1983 and ’88, picking up five Ulster titles along the way.
Provincial success may have eluded Kilcoo thus far, but they go into Sunday’s Down final showdown with O’Rourke’s Burren side aiming to smash the record set by the St Mary’s men all those years ago.
The historical significance others may talk about, the potential overhauling of their own superb achievement, it means nothing to O’Rourke. But he has a keener idea than most of the sense of invincibility such a run can bestow upon a group.
“It’s massive to a team,” he said.
“You get to the stage where you don’t think you’re ever going to lose a championship match. I’m sure that’s where they [Kilcoo] are. They have been exceptional.
“I remember back when we had that run, you just felt it would continue on...”
Thirty years may have passed but the similarities between any teams that put together winning streaks often stare you straight in the face, regardless of personnel or playing style.
“Just that they’re so consistent,” added O’Rourke.
“They’re two different types of teams, play two different ways, but other than that their winning mentality is probably very similar to what we had.
“Kilcoo are an exceptional side, an exceptional club. They’re going for an amazing amount of titles in-a-row, they have a lot of quality there. They’re extremely difficult for teams to beat and that has been the case again this year.
“They’re into another final and they’d be very much favourites to win it, I would think. But we’ll go out and have a rattle at it and see where it takes us.”
Burren have tried, and failed, to stop Kilcoo in three of the last five county finals as the Magpies crept ever closer to the record set during O’Rourke’s playing pomp.
That it is the St Mary’s who are in the opposite corner on Sunday may add an extra layer of intrigue for supporters and outside observers, but any notion that preventing Kilcoo hitting the magic seven is instantly dismissed.
“That has nothing to do with it,” says the former Down and Armagh manager.
“This is one title, one year. This is 2018, championship one, and that’s all that is of any importance. It’s not something that would ever be mentioned. That would not be a factor in the thing at all.”
Kilcoo boss Paul McIver felt the Magpies didn’t get the credit they deserved for the semi-final victory over Warrenpoint.
However, with an injury list including Stevie Kane, Darragh O'Hanlon, Aaron Morgan, Dylan Ward, Aidan Branagan, Aaron Branagan, Paul Greenan and Ryan Johnston, there is no doubt their resources are stretched.
Burren, though, are also without some key men, and O’Rourke batted away any suggestion that the Down kingpins were vulnerable.
“Absolutely not. If you look at our team, we’ve lost four or five players from last year, so I don’t buy into that at all.
“They’re a very, very strong club with a very strong panel of players. Like everybody else, you have changes and people get injured, but you have to work around that.”