Sport

Kilcoo playing like a team angry with the world

Kilcoo's Ryan McEvoy and Derrygonnelly's Aaron Jones in action during Sunday Ulster Club SFC game at Brewster Park                                    PICTURE: Philip Walsh
Kilcoo's Ryan McEvoy and Derrygonnelly's Aaron Jones in action during Sunday Ulster Club SFC game at Brewster Park PICTURE: Philip Walsh Kilcoo's Ryan McEvoy and Derrygonnelly's Aaron Jones in action during Sunday Ulster Club SFC game at Brewster Park PICTURE: Philip Walsh

AIB Ulster Club SFC preliminary round: Derrygonnelly 1-7 Kilcoo 2-13

HOW best to describe Kilcoo’s first-half display? Like that of a team outwardly angry at the world but smiling to themselves on the inside.

It was one furore after the next to get out of Down but when you stripped it down to the brass tacks, their football was miles ahead of anything else in the county.

Same here. Derrygonnelly came determined that they wouldn’t let the game get away again but were powerless to stop it. The 2021/22 All-Ireland champions were 1-9 to 0-1 to the good.

Nobody pulls the drawbridge up better.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Kilcoo but they very much keep to themselves,” smiled the softly-spoken Karl Lacey, a tone belying the sense that he and the club are of the same spirit animal.

“I hope the noise doesn’t creep in. Those lads have been here, they’ve done it on bigger days than this, they’re experienced and well used to it,” he said when asked if it had been easy to lay fresh siege to their already emboldened mentality.

He expects that what will come their way in Newry next weekend will be altogether more testing, mind.

“A different animal” was how Lacey put it in terms of what Scotstown will bring to the party.

Kilcoo’s mindset is such that they would have expected to beat Derrygonnelly. No greater evidence required than the presence of their coach Patrick Morrison in the crowd in Clones two weeks ago when Scotstown overcame Inniskeen to win yet another Monaghan title.

They’re gunning for a big crack at Ulster and the visit of David McCague’s side to Pairc Esler on Sunday afternoon is sure to draw eyeballs and interest from around the country.

Kilcoo’s first half was pretty much flawless, barring a small absence of early ruthlessness. Their first two points could both have been goals if they’d been willing to bare their teeth.

They weren’t needed but it’ll come the day when they are.

It’s nit-picking but Lacey himself was pleased with the first period and not so much with the second. Derrygonnelly brought heart and spirit to a hopeless situation and came away at least with a small bit of credit left in the bank.

“We nailed a lot of good stuff in the first half, from an attacking point of view and a defensive point of view, we only conceded one point and two frees.

“Their goal was the killer, the couple of points they got, but overall they got 1-6, it’s still not a bad day when you’re conceding eight or nine points in an Ulster Championship.

“I have to look back on the tape [to see what wasn’t so good].

“It was our behaviours at the start of the second half in relation to giving them the ticket into the game and those good turnovers we had in the first-half, maybe Derrygonnelly were better on the ball or maybe we weren’t stepping up as much or getting as much pressure on the ball.”