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Football is the heartbeat of Kilcoo says Laverty

By Michael McMullan

THERE was a sense of total contentment seeping around Kilcoo’s post-game huddle on Sunday night.

On a cold December night, the total togetherness was there for all to see.

Coming through one of the eagerly awaited games was nothing other than just another step.

Conor Laverty’s young sons waited patiently as their father joined in the string of high fives around the group.

The joy on their faces as he emerged from the winners’ circle tells all there is to know about Kilcoo’s desire for football. It was been passed from generation to generation.

“The football club is the heartbeat of the community,” Laverty said with the same calmness his team demonstrated in the heat of what he described as an “arm wrestle.”

“It is something we just live for and we are very lucky to just be in such a good team. It is great for the community to be back in another Ulster final.

“At least you can enjoy Christmas now and going to training over the Christmas break. It would’ve been a disaster if we hadn’t have been able to do that,”

Laverty has tasted success with Down u-20s as manager, is the club’s youth officer and has coached every age group to a county title, including many of the current senior team.

By the time their Ulster winning cavalcade had made its way back from Healy Park in 2019, Laverty was out on one of the club’s pitches coaching the next generation, on Kilcoo’s greatest ever Sunday.

As if it was payback for what made the difference for the current group of players.

“We were very lucky to have good men over all our underage teams,” he said after seeing off Glen on Sunday.

“I remember all of us were at senior training back then. It is just a way of life in Kilcoo and that’s the way it is.

“A lot of good work went into underage teams in the 1990s. It was from that where we began to get success at senior level.”

Now is their golden generation, but Laverty has no interest in any chat about trying to go one better than their All-Ireland final defeat to Kilcoo. Derrygonnelly is the only show in town.

On their win over Glen, Laverty wasn’t surprised at how tense and tactical it transpired to be.

“Both teams possess similar qualities,” he said. “So it was going to be a game of chess and (about) who was going to get the key move and gain control of the game. It was going to be arm wrestle at all times.”

For Laverty, it was about getting control of the game. Then, a team can set the pace and play on their own terms.

Kilcoo went two points ahead, but Glen came back to force extra-time and went ahead early in that added period. Kilcoo were starting to shake, but hung in long enough for Jerome Johnston to hit the game’s only goal.

“The lads showed serious character to respond to that,” Laverty added. “It is a sign of this team that we are never beat. We can go to the dark places and we enjoy those tight and tense affairs.

“We have been on the road a long time now. The experience helps you whenever you are going into those areas.

“Whenever was went into extra-time, we have been there before, we have experiences that and it is good to be able to draw on that.”

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