Mickey Moran's Kilcoo up next for Pete McGrath's Rostrevor
PETE McGrath had to deal with defeat for the first time as manager of his native Rostrevor when the St Bronagh’s outfit lost to Loughinisland on Monday night.
The game finished in a 0-8 to 2-9 win for the visitors and was a first setback for Rostrevor after a bright start to the Division One season which had seen them record victories over neighbours Warrenpoint and Bryansford.
McGrath, who shepherded Down to All-Ireland titles in 1991 and 1994 and has also managed the Ireland International Rules team and Fermanagh and Louth at inter-county level, was tempted to take the reins at Petit Park. As a player McGrath won a Down championship with the club and has inherited a side that reached the Ulster Intermediate final in 2017.
“We were going rightly,” said Rostrevor’s Caolan Mooney, reflecting on the loss to Loughinisland.
“Unfortunately we got a bit complacent it would seem and it was one of those games when we went away from everything we did in the first two games. Our pressure, our intensity wasn’t the same and, fair play to Loughinisland, they took the game to us and we didn’t return the favour.”
Mooney played under McGrath for the Down minors in 2011 and was called up to the Mourne county’s senior panel the same year. In December he packed his bags for Collingwood and Aussie Rules but returned to his native Rostrevor in 2014 and has been a certain starter for club and county when available ever since.
“I’m mature enough now to understand what Pete brings with him,” said Mooney.
“There aren’t too many people in Ireland who wouldn’t know who Pete McGrath is and this is his first stint with Rostrevor and that brings a lot of expectation with it too. He expects a lot of the players and unfortunately against Loughinisland we didn’t deliver on those expectations.
“In the previous two games we did and now we have to go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong and how we can put it right against Kilcoo on Easter Sunday.”
The Magpies – six in-a-row county champions - also lost on Monday night, against Castlewellan. That three-point defeat was their first league loss under new manager Mickey Moran and they will be determined to bounce back at the weekend.
“No better place to go than the Ulster League champions and the county champions!” said Mooney.
“There’s nothing like a challenge.”
McGrath is certain to feel the same way. The former St Colman’s College teacher lives and breathes Gaelic football and will enjoy pitting himself against former Derry and Mayo manager Moran, who took over at Kilcoo after a stunning run of success at Slaughtneil.
“He is passionate in every aspect of what he brings to the table and he has brought a more structured set-up to the club,” said Mooney.
“Things have been decent in the past but Pete has brought his county experience to club level and the boys are buying into it and really enjoying what is being offered. We were pretty disappointed about losing to Loughinisland but Pete was telling us to look at the positives and we will move forward.
“That game is gone now and we will train this week and then it’s Kilcoo next.”