By Shaun Casey
KILCOO are a permanent fixture in the Ulster Club Championship at this stage, but the competition still excites them according to roaming wing-back Miceal Rooney.
Rooney, who was a member of Conor Laverty’s Down squad this season as they reached the Tailteann Cup final, bagged 1-1 in the county final victory over Burren as the Magpies collected the Frank O’Hare Cup for the eleventh time in 12 years.
They now face the dominant force in Fermanagh, Derrygonnelly, who are back in the provincial competition after losing their crown to Enniskillen Gaels last year, in the preliminary round of Ulster at Brewster Park this Sunday afternoon.
“It’s always brilliant when you’re still training at this time of year,” said Rooney, Player of the Match in the Down final.
“There’s only so many floodlights on in Ulster now and we’re one of the lucky clubs that have ours on. But look, Ulster is never a foregone conclusion for any club.
“It’s very, very difficult to win and we have a very difficult task going up to Brewster Park. It’s going to be a very difficult task, it’s always a tough game up there but it’s one that we will relish.”
Kilcoo have brought through a number of youngsters that will get the chance to display their talents on the provincial stage, and Rooney believes they have been a big help to Karl Lacey’s side this season.
“We’ve unearthed a few top players that got a lot of football in the league when we were with Down. Chrissy (Rooney), Callum (Rogers), ‘Natho’ (Nathan Rogers), Jack (Devlin), and Justy (Clarke) and all of these boys that have been training flat out.
“These boys are pushing it hard, and they were pushing it hard in the league, they finished third in the league and played the majority of it without any county boys so they’re a testament to the club and the hard-working ethos that’s in our club.
“I’m delighted that a few of them picked up their first county medal playing this year, delighted for them lads especially.”
Picking up this championship medal was particularly special for the Rooney family as Miceal got to share the field with his younger brother Chrissy. The full-forward didn’t score during their nine-point win over Burren but has been a real find in the Kilcoo attack.
“Chrissy put in as much work in the last few years as I did and probably didn’t get the rewards individually that he maybe could have got,” added Rooney.
“He played against Burren, and he had a good game, he gave his all for the time that he was on the field and then he put his hand up and wee ‘Natho’ came on and finished the job.
“That’s all we’re looking. We’re just looking for boys to come in and keep moving this club forward and I’m delighted for the younger boys and the older boys because it’s difficult for them too with families and injuries, that they get another medal for themselves.”