Kilcoo a final force to be reckoned with insists Jim McCorry
BURREN boss Jim McCorry isn’t buying into any talk of Kilcoo being a faded force ahead of their Down final duel – insisting the Magpies are past masters when it comes to winning when it matters most.
Mickey Moran’s men saw off Mayobridge and Clonduff on the way to the last eight, but needed extra-time to see off Carryduff before scraping beyond Ballyholland in an at times ill-tempered semi-final on Sunday.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for Burren either, with last-gasp wins over Mayobridge and Clonduff booking their spot in the November 7 decider – which pits McCorry against the club he led to a hat-trick of Down SFC titles between 2012 and 2014.
The Lurgan man knows better than most what shaped Kilcoo into the side that has dominated Down over the past decade, as well being crowned Ulster champions in 2019, and he won’t be worrying too much about form lines ahead of his reunion with the Magpies.
“Listen, Kilcoo are a fantastic community and a fantastic club,” said McCorry.
“They’ve been the kingpins of Down now for so long, everybody’s been trying to knock them off the perch, including Burren, who did knock them off three years ago.
“Kilcoo know how to win finals. This [Pairc Esler] is like their own back yard, they’re that used to this field now. They’ll be very hard to beat.
“People are saying they’re not playing great football this year, they’re not playing well – well, they’re in another final. They know how to win games, they know how to close out games.
“We’ll have to have another look at their game, I’m sure they’ll be looking plenty at us as well, but we’re looking forward to it. It’ll be nice for these guys, especially the younger ones coming in this year, to get that experience.
“People talk about us having easy games at the start, and I think that’s very insulting to the likes of Saul and Glenn, who got through to the quarter-finals and have as good a forward line as any in the county.
“Then there was Mayobridge and Clonduff, two of the top four teams, so we’ve had to work hard to get here. That’s great preparation for us.”
And while McCorry looks set to be without forward Liam Kerr for the final after he suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday’s win over Clonduff, the Burren boss was buoyed by Donal O’Hare’s first championship start of the campaign.
A knee problem has seen the St Mary’s captain managed with kid gloves, but O’Hare still poses a major threat for any defence in the county, even one as resolute as Kilcoo’s.
“Donal’s a top class player,” said McCorry.
“Paddy Tally wanted him to play for Down again this year, it was just because of the injuries he has had that he really had to take that time away from it and get himself healed.
“That’s what we were doing, getting him time to heal. But he’s never missed a training session, even when he’s not on the field, he’s leading by example.
“He’s a great player to have in the squad, and it’s the same with all those experienced lads. Then you look and see the likes of Paddy McCarthy coming on so strong at the end, Odhran Murdock in midfield, not 19 yet, Ryan Magill covered every blade of grass, Danny Magill’s another from the U20 team…
“You need that balance, and to have Donal for a full game was a bonus.”