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McIver's focused on getting his own job right

By Declan Bogue

Published 14/11/2015

Ready to go: Paul McIver has his Kilcoo team well prepared
Ready to go: Paul McIver has his Kilcoo team well prepared

Kilcoo manager Paul McIver knows just how hard it is to beat Crossmaglen Rangers.

In late 2008 he was trainer of the Ballinderry Shamrocks team that forced a replay in the Ulster final in Brewster Park. Only in the week between the drawn game and the replay, Shamrocks talisman Enda Muldoon was unfortunate to sustain a broken bone in his foot after an accident at work.

It cost them dearly and showed that when you go to war with Cross, you need your full arsenal.

Last week, McIver hosted an in-house game at Kilcoo training, with over 30 players chomping at the bit, an extremely rare occurrence in club football.

"The boys have trained really well this last two weeks," he said.

"Preparations have been going well and it's a matter of turning up on the day and putting in the performance. Anything can happen on any given day.

"We just pray that the weather is good, the referee has a good game and that both teams go out and play football."

The return of Jamie Clarke to Crossmaglen training was confirmed this week by joint manager Oisin McConville.

No doubt it led to a couple of heart flutters, but McIver was staying on message that the prospect of Clarke making an appearance at some stage would not affect his thinking.

He responded to the news by saying: "It's nothing to concern us. Crossmaglen have their own agenda, their own team. We can't control and any of that.

"Whether Jamie Clarke plays or not has nothing to do with us, we will go out and play whatever team Crossmaglen put out and I think they will have more to worry about than us."

After many years involved in this competition, including a spell with Tyrone's Dromore, McIver is well placed to offer his thoughts on what makes Crossmaglen so consistent, while noting that for all their domination of the Armagh, they are without an Ulster title since 2012.

"One thing I have to say about Crossmaglen is that they do all the simple things very, very well. That's the key to their success, but they haven't been successful at this level for the last three years.

"Oisin has alluded to that a number of times in the last wee while. They are putting pressure on themselves, which is great for us.

"All we are worried about is getting the performance from ourselves and we know that if we play to our capabilities, that the result will look after itself."

And McIver also rejects that past meetings will colour the physical exchanges, come Sunday.

"Funny, we were looking back on the game that was drawn two years ago between Crossmaglen and Kilcoo. We looked at the team sheets and the Kilcoo team of two years ago has changed dramatically, but the Crossmaglen team seems to have stayed the same.

"The past history means nothing. It's all about the new players and the new environment that they are going to be playing in."

Belfast Telegraph

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