Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry heaps praise on his stars
Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry knew that the Ulster club championship would be a big step up for his side, just as it has been in each of the two previous years in which they have participated in the province's flagship competition under his baton.
But McCorry never envisaged that back-to-back games against reigning champions Crossmaglen with both going to extra-time and the reward for eventually toppling the provincial champions from their perch being a clash with title favourites Ballinderry would form his team's menu.
"We knew from the outset that Crossmaglen would be very difficult opponents," said McCorry. "But while we are delighted to take this win, we must realise that we have just won one match in the competition. And that comes at a cost as we lost key players.
"But I think the one thing that must be recorded in relation to these two games against Crossmaglen is that the players who came in were immense. They got their chance in the side and they did really, really well. I am just delighted for these players in particular."
Kilcoo's tenacity, commitment and self-belief was to serve them well particularly in extra-time yesterday when they tightened their grip on a game which appeared to be slipping away from them and McCorry lauded his players' concentration and durability.
"We had a lean spell during the second-half when we gave the ball away and made things hard for ourselves," he admitted. "But we recovered our composure in extra-time and the goals proved decisive for us."
Now McCorry must switch his focus to a Ballinderry side that is clearly anxious to repeat their 2001 Ulster club title triumph.
"I well remember them doing that because they beat my team, Mayobridge, on their way to achieving that success before going on to win the All-Ireland club title the following March," he recalls. They are a big, strong physical side who can play very good football. It was a titanic struggle that year in the Ulster final and I am sure it will be the same again next week They will have had the advantage of watching us in this game so they will have had their card well marked."
McCorry, a native of Lurgan, is delighted with the level of support which Kilcoo currently enjoy, their stock having soared since the start of the provincial club championship.
"We are delighted with support no matter from what source it comes," he quipped.