GAA Football

Write them off at your peril - Kilcoo prepare for Croke Park test against Corofin

Kilcoo's Micheal Rooney and Ballyboden's Alan Flood in action during the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Championship Semi-Final's between Kilcoo and Ballyboden at Breffni Pairc Cavan. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship semi-final: Kilcoo (Ulster) 2-8 Ballyboden St Enda's (Leinster) 0-11

From Andy Watters at Kingspan Breffni

WRITE them off at your peril. Kilcoo head for Croke Park and an All-Ireland final meeting with three in-a-row chasing Corofin on January 19.

They'll be underdogs of course but they are well used to that. They were underdogs in the Ulster final and again on Saturday when they deservedly toppled Ballyboden in a nail-biting semi-final in Cavan.

“It (being underdogs) is not something we pay much attention to,” said Kilcoo assistant-manager Conleith Gilligan.

“We have went into a lot of games – even the county final in Down – with people tipping against us so it isn't unusual. It's not something that's ever talked about but players are players and they want to put two fingers up to the critics and Kilcoo are no different.

“But a team that is going for three All-Irelands… It's phenomenal and we'll just have to prepare as best we can and give the best account of ourselves. I we do that everything else will take care of itself.”

It is 32 years now since a Down club (Burren's win in 1988) last reached this stage and over a quarter of a century since Pete McGrath's Mournemen won the All-Ireland final. Kilcoo's triumph could breathe new life into Down football.

“There's a great buzz in Kilcoo and around Down in general,” said Gilligan.

“Down football has been a bit stagnant this last while and this will give everybody a lift going into the new year of 2020.

“Getting to Croke Park is the pinnacle for every player, some of these boys have been soldiering 13-14 years and it's great reward for them but it's only a final, there's no prizes for getting there.”

And to win the greatest prize in club football, Kilcoo will have to beat one of the greatest teams in Galway and Munster kingpins Corofin.

“We've been watching them the last number of years and they are just an incredible team,” said Gilligan.

“For a club team to go with that level of consistency is brilliant. We know the challenge that's coming but we're there, we'll savour this good feeling and we'll be back down to earth with a bang tomorrow knowing that we're playing one of the greatest club teams that every played the game.”

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