Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry made it clear after his side won the Down senior football championship title for the first time in 72 years that they did not necessarily view this as the ultimate success.
And yesterday the players cemented this theory when they outgunned a more experienced St Eunan’s outfit to book an Ulster Club Championship semi-final meeting with Derry champions Loup on Sunday next.
Paul Greenan proved a midfield colossus, Paul Devlin a silken creator as well as an accomplished finisher and Niall McEvoy a solid defensive pillar.
Kilcoo found themselves in front at half-time (0-6 to 0-4) and as the match progressed Kilcoo’s hunger, defensive alignment and decisive finishing ensured that the St Eunan’s tactical plan was left in ruins.
Devlin had already left his imprint on the game with three points at the half-way stage and when Greenan and Martin McLean subsequently imposed themselves more forcibly in the middle third, Barry and Donal Kane along with the cultured Anthony Devlin were provided with the ammunition to shoot down the Donegal champions.
Even though their entire full-back line received yellow cards in the early stages, Kilcoo’s discipline and organisation were such that they did not incur any further disciplinary sanctions.
St Eunan’s will justifiably point to the squandering of two gilt-edged goal chances as one of the reasons for their demise, but for the most part it was Kilcoo’s blanket defending and ability to counter-attack intelligently that allowed them to assume command.
Paul Devlin finished with six points while the Kanes hoisted over five between them, the most crucial perhaps of which was Donal’s fine 47th minute free that opened up a five-point gap (0-10 to 0-5).
Conal was hugely impressive for the losers, looping over half-a-dozen points (four frees) while the late introduction of Rory Kavanagh, this year’s Donegal captain, did not quite have the galvanising effect that was intended. This being the case, it was no surprise that Kilcoo finished in cruise control.