GAA Football

Burren can cope without me, says Down injured star Liam Kerr ahead of championship final showdown with Kilcoo

Burren's Liam Kerr will miss Sunday's senior championship final against Kilcoo after breaking his collarbone in the semi-final. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

LIAM Kerr is confident Burren can cope without him in Sunday’s Down Senior Championship final against four in-a-row chasing Kilcoo.

Down star Kerr had been producing some of the best football of his career this season but bad luck struck when a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge left him with a broken collarbone during Burren’s semi-final win over Clonduff. The pacey 22-year-old is due to have an operation next week and won’t return to action until early next year but he’ll be in the Pairc Esler stands cheering on his team-mates on Sunday.

“I think we’ll be 100 per cent,” said Kerr, whose lightening pace and scoring ability will certainly be missed when Burren attempt to break down the Kilcoo defence in the decider.

“Thankfully, we do have a great squad. We’ve done a lot of in-house games this year, more than any other year, and the quality is there and we’ve got everyone ready. Obviously only 15 can start but there’s about 25 boys who could start in that team.

“It’s disappointing for me but I know whoever does come in will do a job. We might have to reshuffle things a wee bit, play a bit differently but whoever comes in will do a great job. I’ll be going to watch it and I’ll be more nervous watching it than I would be playing because you can’t have any say in the outcome.”

Opponents Kilcoo are chasing a four in-a-row on Sunday and only Burren have been able to interrupt their dominance of the Down scene over the past dozen years. Since 2009, the Magpies have captured nine titles (and an Ulster crown) while Burren have won the other three.

“They have a lot of experience in the big games and they’ve been doing just enough to win them this year,” said Kerr who was part of Burren’s 2018 success.

“Fair play to them, they’re back in the final. There’s been many a battle between Burren and Kilcoo over the years and hopefully we come out on the right side of this one.”

Missing out on the final is devastating for Kerr who scored six superb points in man of the match display in the quarter-final win against Mayobridge.

“It’s disappointing but it is what it is,” he said.

“This is what you train the whole year for and to miss it through an injury like this…

“I’ve been quite lucky with injuries so hopefully, after I get back from this, this will be the end of it.”

A regular with Down under Paddy Tally’s management, he credits the arrival of experienced manager Jim McCorry as the catalyst for his superb form this year. Former Armagh and Down manager McCorry subbed him in a couple of league games and Kerr said that acted as “a bit of a wake-up call” for him.

“You have to be at it all the time if you want to play for him,” he says.

Since McCorry’s arrival at St Mary’s Park, Kerr’s mindset has changed. He learned to relax a little more and enjoy his football - but that doesn’t mean he’s putting any less effort into it.

“I just wasn’t putting as much pressure on myself as I would have in previous years,” he said.

“I know it’s a cliché, but I’m going out and enjoying my football. I would have put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the big games but his year I went out and tried to enjoy it.

“Before I would have had it in my head to go and get the ball all the time but now I try to make the right runs and if I don’t get the ball the first time, I just keep going and try and get it again. I just trusted that if I do make the right runs I’ll get the ball in good areas and then obviously you have to try and finish.

“I’ve found that the less pressure I put on myself, the better I’ve played.”

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