By Shaun Casey
FROM the outside, an Ulster final between Kilcoo and Glen looks like the dream pairing, but the Magpies won’t be underestimating their semi-final opponents Enniskillen Gaels.
The Fermanagh side needed extra-time and penalties to eventually shake off Gowna in the provincial quarter-final, and that will give them plenty of momentum heading into this encounter, said Kilcoo joint manager Conleith Gilligan, who takes the side along with Richie Thornton.
“Whenever we looked at it, it was the winners of Ballybay and Crossmaglen, so we had to prepare for both because obviously we had a couple of weeks in between times where we didn’t know who it was.
“We were doing our homework on them and then we only had a week once Ballybay beat Cross and now we’ve had two weeks to prepare for Enniskillen and that’s all the focus has been on. That’s the only focus, trying to put our best foot forward and play the best we can against a very good Enniskillen team.
“There’s been no history in terms of these teams playing each other.
“I suppose this Enniskillen team itself is pretty experienced right through minor, the St Paul’s tournament, the tournament in Cargin, all that team won MacRory’s and Hogan Cups.
“They’re backboned by loads of Fermanagh players and have loads of experience, they’ve been to Ulster before at different levels so it’s not a new thing for them either.
“The win against Gowna is going to leave them very difficult to beat because of the momentum of extra-time and penalties and the manner of that victory. They’re going to be in a good place going into this game.”
Should Kilcoo make it through to another final, they’ll have a chance to become only the fifth team in the province to secure a three-in-a-row of titles.
Cross did it twice, Burren managed it, as did Clan na Gael and Scotstown.
That thought is far from their minds, however, insists the former Derry forward.
“In between times there was that Covid year where nothing happened and what went on before that kind of disappeared.
“While it may be like that, it doesn’t feel like that and it’s not something that we would discuss at all.
“At the start of the year we said, could we manage to win Down again and put ourselves in the position to have another go and we did, and it wasn’t easy.
“With the Ballybay game, we knew we were up against it and thankfully we came out of that and gave ourselves another opportunity.
“But every game is so difficult now, if you start looking beyond the next game you could be just dumped out very quick.”
Gilligan hopes the All-Ireland champions will be at full strength come Saturday, although admits they do have some “niggles”.
“Everything’s looks okay, as usual after a really tough Ulster Club game there’s niggles. The changes of the pitch probably make it difficult for players because it goes from really hard summer ground to hard winter ground.
“There are always wee niggles but we’re hopeful that we’ll have a clean bill of health by the time the game comes round.”