Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Cookstown Fr Rocks boss McKeever sees strong work ethic get results

By his own admission John McKeever, unlike some other managers, is not quite consumed by statistics.

But for the Cookstown Fr Rocks club boss one figure currently holds considerable significance.

“That’s the combined total of 120 training sessions and games we have played since the start of the year,” observers Portglenone man McKeever.

“I think this more than anything reflects the enthusiasm, commitment and desire within this squad and it’s the main reason why we are looking forward to playing in an Ulster Intermediate Club Football Championship semi-final this Sunday.”

Monaghan champions Drumhowan, who have already beaten Cavan standard-bearers Lacken in the competition, will form the opposition to McKeever’s energised outfit at Brewster Park, Enniskillen on Sunday (2.30pm).

And it’s the levels of fitness, cohesion and finishing skills which the Tyrone side will bring to the table that can prove their passport into the decider against either Aghagallon or Warrenpoint, according to McKeever.

“Our game basically involves moving the ball quickly, getting up smartly in support when we are going forward and tracking back repeatedly when our opponents are in possession,” points out McKeever.

“Essentially it’s a simplistic formula but it requires great commitment and a willingness on the part of all the players on the team to work their socks off.”

Two years ago Cookstown won the All-Ireland Intermediate title when Chris Lawn was in charge and when McKeever took over any doubts he might have harboured in relation to the team’s appetite for glory being sated were quickly dispelled.

“The way in which the boys approach training, the tremendous camaraderie within the squad and their obvious pride in achieving a high level of consistency never fails to impress me,” explains McKeever.

In disposing of Armagh champions Killeavy in the quarter-final, Cookstown played with poise and authority, gaining an early foothold at midfield through Conor Mullan and Conor O’Hare and providing a ration of devastating finishing from Shea McGarrity and Owen Mulligan.

Triple All-Ireland winner Mulligan is currently skipper of the side and having led them to the Tyrone title, he is particularly keen to see the Ulster trophy adorn the club’s sideboard.

“Even though we won an All-Ireland club title a couple of years ago there is still a great hunger within this team. These boys just want to keep winning now that we have got a good bit of momentum going,” states Mulligan.

“We don’t know an awful lot about the Doohamlet side we will be meeting on Sunday but we feel that out stamina, teamwork and cohesion will have us prepared for anything that comes our way. We will be going in the game with our eyes wide open, that’s for sure.”

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