Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry believes his team will embark on their Ulster Club football championship campaign a much wiser side following their initial experience in the competition three years ago.
It was after ending a 72-year wait for a Down title that Kilcoo found themselves in unfamiliar territory, rubbing shoulders with the province’s leading sides in the pursuit of further silverware.
But after overcoming Donegal champions St Eunan’s in their opening game, Kilcoo eventually surrendered to Derry title-holders Loup in the semi-final.
McCorry feels that inexperience and perhaps a hint of naivety proved their undoing in a game which they had looked capable of tasting victory at one stage.
“We had a player sent off after he incurred two yellow cards and we still only lost the game by a point,” recalls McCorry.
“I would like to think that we learned from that game.
“Certainly the attitude and the commitment which the players have shown in now winning the Down title for the second time in four years suggest that they will not be out of their depth in the Ulster series.”
His team had scarcely taken delivery of their county championship trophy on Sunday than McCorry was challenging the players to prove themselves on the provincial stage.
Kilcoo will face Monaghan champions Ballybay on Sunday, November 4 at Clones when another tough assignment lurks on the horizon.
“This is our sole focus now,” he insists.
“We are playing the new Monaghan champions Ballybay on Sunday week in Clones and like ourselves they will be very keen to show what they can do in a provincial context.
“We feel we are more experienced now and we know that we must show complete concentration and focus for the entire game if we are to have a chance of coming out on top.”
This is a clear warning to his players not to engage in the slightest hint of complacency after they had seen a seven-point second-half lead trimmed to three points by a battling Mayobridge side on Sunday.
“We could easily have maybe only got a draw out of that game had maybe Benny Coulter snapped up a late goal — something of which he is extremely capable — or Cathal Magee perhaps got on the end of something for Mayobridge,” added McCorry.
“We have to be at our sharpest for the Ulster Club championship because we will definitely be in along with a number of top-quality sides all with aspirations of achieving further success.”
Kilcoo will be back training tonight when McCorry plans to conduct an in-depth review of Sunday’s county final victory with the emphasis very much on areas in which he feels his players erred.
“Only by learning from the county final and applying those lessons can we hope to make headway in the Ulster series,” he states.