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McIver reflects on midfield misery

By Declan Bogue

Published 16/11/2015

Close by: Kilcoo's Martin Devlin with Aidan Rushe
Close by: Kilcoo's Martin Devlin with Aidan Rushe

Kilcoo manager Paul McIver came out of their dressing room, shook hands with Jamie Clarke, and before leaving to begin plans for 2016, dissected the reasons for their disappointing defeat.

The inability to develop a hard shell in the heat of battle was a concern for him as he chewed over some half-time findings by his backroom team.

"The stats at half-time concerned us, the sector around the middle of the field," he said.

"It is normally very good, but we only won two out of ten of our own kickouts, and only six out of 18 kickouts in the first half.

"It was that midfield sector, I suppose, that we were let down on. It wasn't that we couldn't get possession, it was that possession was being spilled or we were losing it in the tackle."

And, he noted that they had Cross studied. Nothing they brought came as a surprise, but dealing with it in the flesh is another matter entirely.

"Whenever you are living on scraps, against a team like Crossmaglen it comes back to haunt you in the end," he added. "They had that big 10 minutes after half-time that Cross are notorious for, even though we had prepared for it. They dominated that 10 minutes and they punished us on the scoreboard.

"I suppose that was the difference at the end of the day."

As trainer of Ballinderry Shamrocks in 2008, McIver came up against Cross in two legendary finals played in Brewster Park, under winter lights. When asked how this current generation stack up against that team of John Donaldson, Francie Bellew, the McEntees and Oisin McConville, he takes the conversation in a different direction.

"It would be very unfair to (compare them to the 2008 team), but I think it would be very unfair to the 2015 team. They are completely different," he said.

"They do the simple things well as a club, and as a team. When you go through the unforced errors, Crossmaglen had very few errors, when we had a lot of them.

"We were spilling the ball in the tackle, there were bad passes going to ground. Cross do the simple things well and, traditionally, that's why they do well at this time of the year."

He also refused to scratch around for excuses, if when it is suggested to him that his smaller group of players found the conditions a little too heavy for their style of play.

"I wouldn't blame conditions, they were the exact same for us as it was for them. We have to learn and we have to move on, preparations have to start already. They do the simple things right, as I keep saying," he said.

"For myself, there are a number of things… You only learn about a team when it comes to the battle. Unfortunately for us, we only had two battles this year really, against Burren and I learned an awful lot that day. But I learned more today than I have all year.

"That's great, because my journey, and the journey for this team, starts now. We have to get all the things that I have learned today, and we have to rectify them for next year."

Belfast Telegraph

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