Kilcoo improving each game - Glen must do same, says Malachy O'Rourke

Malachy O'Rourke, manager of Watty Graham's, Glen. Picture Seamus Loughran
Malachy O'Rourke, manager of Watty Graham's, Glen. Picture Seamus Loughran

KILCOO are getting better and better, says Glen boss Malachy O'Rourke – whether the Maghera men can get the better of the All-Ireland Club SFC champions remains to be seen.

The kingpins from Down and Derry will clash in an eagerly-awaited Ulster Final at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh on Sunday December 11, and O'Rourke is glad of that time in order to prepare for the challenge.

"In fairness to them they came through a couple of tight battles in Down, which they always seem to be able to do, and as this [Ulster] series has gone on.

"The experience of winning an All-Ireland has to bring you on massively as a team and all the work they've done to do that. I think they are a better team so we're definitely going to have to be a lot better than we were last year."

Asked if Glen are better themselves, O'Rourke replied wryly in the aftermath of their tight semi-final win over Cargin of Antrim: "You always like to think you are, but people would have their own views after that performance….we didn't play at our best, so time will tell."

Kilcoo's abiity to win tight tussles is evident too. The Magpies won out in last year's Ulster semi-final against Glen, after extra time, and – after thrashing Derrygonnelly in the provincial decider - went on to beat Munster champs St Finbarr's of Cork and Leinster kings Kilmacud Croke's of Dublin – both also after extra time.

O'Rourke does not doubt that Kilcoo deserved their wins: "We played them last year in the semi-final and they beat us fair and square, absolutely no problem with that. They've been in the last two All-Ireland finals, have won one, now in three Ulster Finals so they are the team to beat.

"It's a massive challenge for us, we know we're gonna have to play a lot better than we did today if we're gonna pull up a fight against them but, look, it's great to be there.

"I suppose it is a different challenge but you'd be stupid if you didn't learn lesson from last year's game, see what things worked well for us and what things didn't work. No doubt we'll be looking at Kilcoo, looking at that game last year, looking at their games this year.

"But most of all, we'll be looking to improve our own performance. We wouldn't be happy with that performance the day. Cargin missed a lot in the second half as well, so we know we have massive work to do and we're just glad to have two weeks to do it and we'll see if it's enough."