By Niall Gartland
NEW Kilcar boss Conor Cunningham says he’s keen to wipe the slate clean after the controversy surrounding the delayed 2020 Donegal Senior Championship final.
Naomh Conaill were allowed to keep their title even though they were fined for fielding too many substitutes in their penalty shootout win last October, a decision which Kilcar grudgingly accepted even though it clearly rankled with the club.
Their new manager is Kilcar through and through – he played for the team before managing the reserves and u-21s in recent years – but he says there’s no point moping around feeling sorry for themselves.
“It was important for me to start afresh, I didn’t want any residue left over from last year.
“The decision was made, we won the appeal but it wasn’t something I was going to bring into the new year as a stick to use.
“It’s important to park with, it’s dealt with and we can look forward. If you look at the past you can end up staying there. As a coaching team we need to have a fresh start and that’s where we’re doing.”
Still only 37 years old, Cunningham developed an interest in coaching whilst still a player and admits that he’s aspired to managing the Kilcar senior team.
“It was always an aspiration of mine, managing the seniors at some stage. Managing the reserves and u-21s helped without a doubt, it gave me a good insight on the lads coming through, and they’ll have a good idea of what I’m like as well. It was an ambition and it’s come to fruition this year.”
Appointed to the position in early February, Cunningham says he won’t ask too much from his players in the early part of the season. That said, he’s glad they’ll have a normal bill of fixtures this year.
“It was important to get the lads back mentally fresh, they’d a long period last year where they were gearing themselves up for the delayed 2022 final.
“We didn’t want to rush them back, but we’re back at it now. The league starts in the first week of April, there’s 12 games which is great.
“Even last year was very stop-start due to Covid, there was no relegations and things like that. It’s great for everyone that we have a template we can work of. We’re looking forward to it and it’s only four weeks away so it’ll be good to get going.”
Their ultimate ambition will be to win the Donegal Championship, but there’s plenty of competition between holders St Eunan’s, Naomh Conaill, Gaoth Dobhair and more.
“There’s no let up in the Donegal Championship, there’s no easy games. It’s hard to win the title never mind retaining it. We’ve set our goals and know where we want to be at the end of the year, it’s everyone’s ambition to win the title but there’s so many good teams there. We have the team to compete so it’s just about putting our minds to it.”