By Shaun Casey
HAVING seen off all challengers in Down, Ulster and All-Ireland champions Kilcoo are just focusing on the next game ahead, which comes in the form of Monaghan champions Ballybay, led by Kilcoo native Jerome Johnston and another Down man, Mark Doran.
The Magpies are hoping to collect a third Ulster title in a row, but only have eyes for Ballybay at the minute.
“The only thing we’re looking at is the 12th of November and whatever team comes out we’ll be ready to take the field and hopefully have enough that specific day,” said wing half-forward Ceilum Doherty.
“It’s a very, very special competition, it always has been. Whenever I went to watch Ulster Championship games when I was younger, I loved it so you’re just so appreciative that you’re playing in it.
“Anytime you’re lucky enough to win your own county you’re going to enjoy it because these games are special, especially when the lights come down and the atmosphere heats up, it’s a special time. We’re just happy to be here.”
Kilcoo were severely tested in the Down Championship and needed extra-time to see off both Clonduff and Warrenpoint, but that’s nothing new insists Doherty.
“It probably goes unnoticed from people on the outside, but the Down Championship is a very, very good championship.
“Even in the latter stages, some people might say that’s it’s defensive but there’s a lot of good players in Down.
“You’re happy to come out of those games with a win because you know you have to do your homework and hopefully it’s enough to get through but there’s very good teams in Down.”
Having finally reached the All-Ireland summit last season and climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand, some may feel that Conleith Gilligan and Richard Thornton’s men have lost their edge, but Doherty rubbished those claims.
Doherty suggests the only difference between this year and last is that the competition within the squad has grown.
“You hear that stuff every now and again but at the end of the day we can only control what we can control and that’s training hard and making sure that we’re ready to compete on any given day.
“The boys that are lucky enough to be selected will be ready to take the field and hopefully we can do the business. The only difference (this season) is, there’s younger boys that have come into the squad now and they’re pushing other boys out.
“That’s the way it has to be, it’s a revolving wheel and that’s instilled in you from underage tat if you’re not on it you’re not going to play and that’s always been the way,” added Doherty.
“Everyone knows to stick to that, so you have to be ready at every training session and when you’re playing the in-house games, you have to be on your game. If you’re not, you’ll not be selected to play on the team and that’s the way it always has been and it’s good.”