Kilcoo relishing first taste of All-Ireland action says Conor Laverty
THE Magpies have been throw in at the deep end in their first ever All-Ireland semi-final but there's no shallow end at this stage of club football's most prestigious competition.
And so Kilcoo have to put nerves to one side, make their tackles, put in their hits, track their runners and take their scores against Dublin and Leinster champions Ballyboden St Enda's.
“We have to grasp this,” says joint captain Conor Laverty.
“We have to live in the present and really go at this.”
The Ulster title was still settling into the clubhouse when the Kilcoo players began their preparations. Manager Mickey Moran had the players back out training for today's clash and Laverty says they've never been fitter.
“Mickey has been brilliant since we won Ulster,” says the playmaking score-taker who remains the epicentre of the Kilcoo attack.
“He got us back down to earth very quickly and back into hard training that week. We've never trained as hard in our lives, we're in the shape of our lives. All the training is done with a ball but we have never trained as hard.
“We would have been happy with certain aspects of our game in the Ulster final but there were still areas for improvement and we are always striving to better ourselves. What we did in the past has been great but we really need to focus on the task ahead now.
“We're all just delighted to have this opportunity and we are really focussed in on treating it the same as every other game this year.
“We are sticking to the same process that we went through for every other championship match. At the end of the day, it's 15 men against 15 men and whoever performs best on the day will come out on top.”
Ballyboden were All-Ireland champions in 2017 and the south Dubliners – who celebrate the 50th anniversary of their foundation this year – retain most of the side that saw them clinch that title. They will take some stopping today.
“They are a very strong team,” said Laverty.
“They went through the year in the Dublin and Leinster unbeaten, even in league football they only suffered their first defeat of the year in the league final, so they are a very talented team.
“Some of the players they have are absolutely quality so we're not underestimating the task in front of us.
We are hoping to get a performance from ourselves that will do us and our club proud and of we do that then hopefully we'll come out on the right end of the result.”