By Shaun Casey
JIM McCorry knows a thing or two about county finals, especially in Down. Before joining Burren three years ago, McCorry had led Mayobridge and Kilcoo to the Frank O’Hare Cup a combined total of six times.
Twice the former Armagh and Down manager completed the double (league and championship) with Mayobridge while he won four leagues and four championships during his time with the Magpies.
“County finals are really special,” said McCorry. “Any final when you’re with a team that you’ve been working with all of the year, it’s great.
“When you get to the county final in Down, it’s a very special day. It’s what everybody looks forward to, great colour, a great spectacle and everybody’s really looking forward to it.”
McCorry was in charge of Kilcoo when they kickstarted their dominance in Down, winning three in a row from 2012-2014 to add to their 2009 title. Since then, Kilcoo have competed in every county final, losing just once to McCorry’s new club Burren in 2018.
“It’s not a question of trying to take anybody down, it’s a question of trying to give somebody else an opportunity to win it,” explained McCorry on facing his former team.
“To be honest it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, when it comes to a county final the important thing is to make sure the team is fully prepared.
“Burren is a fantastic club, a great bunch of players to work with this last few years. The first year (2021) we got into the final against Kilcoo and they beat us by two points.
“We weren’t able to make it last year and are back in the final this year, so it’s just nice to have that opportunity again.”
There’s plenty of talent in the Burren squad, and a nice blend of youth and experience. The St Mary’s club had 12 players on the Ulster winning Down u-20 side this season, six on Conor Laverty’s senior team and they also have Armagh defender Paddy Burns in their ranks.
“You need to balance both in terms of how you play your game, your positions and you also need that balance in terms of the age profile for the experience,” added McCorry.
“Youth is great, they’re full of energy and full of enthusiasm and you wouldn’t be without them, but you need that steady hand to steady that ship as well, to give the advice and keep things right in the squad.
“Kevin (McKernan) has been there a long time, Gerard McGovern, Conail McGovern, Donal O’Hare, those guys have been there for a long time and are still playing fantastic football.
“When we got the county boys back and did a fitness test, some of our club guys that I’ve just mentioned actually had higher fitness levels than some of the county men that came back in. They keep themselves in great nick.
“We had a fair county representation and a lot of those younger players were representing Down and will go on to represent them in future years as well.”