Conor Laverty may still be finding success elusive with Down but the willowy forward is nonetheless stepping up his quest for what he hopes will be a second honour with his club Kilcoo this year.
Laverty, director of football at Dublin City University, will line out against St Gall’s in Sunday’s Ulster club semi-final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh conscious that victory will thrust his side into the frame for the title.
Having won the Down title in convincing fashion, Kilcoo went on to overcome Ballybay in the provincial quarter-final and now face what is viewed as the biggest match in the club’s history.
Three years ago Kilcoo made their debut in the Ulster club series after winning their first county crown in 72 years only to fall to Derry champions Loup in the semi-final (1-12 to 1-11).
But Laverty candidly puts that match into context in relation to next Sunday’s contest.
“St Gall’s won the All-Ireland club title two years ago, they have won numerous Antrim championships over the past 10 years and they have a whole raft of county players in their side so you would have to say that they are the best side we will have ever faced,” insists Laverty.
Yet while acknowledging the enormity of the challenge ahead, Laverty believes Kilcoo will not be overawed — and for one very good reason.
“We have implicit faith in our manager Jim McCorry,” states Laverty, one of Down’s most consistent players this year.
“He invariably makes all the right calls on the sideline and this gives the players great heart.
“He knows just when to make switches and bring on substitutes and such decisions can give the team a great lift. I have no doubt that he will get things right again on Sunday.”
McCorry has certainly worked wonders with Kilcoo.
They were in the doldrums when he took over a few years ago and since then they have won the Down championship title twice and provided a number of players for James McCartan’s county squad including of course the irrepressible Laverty.
Indeed, it was no great surprise when Laverty was confirmed as an Allstar nominee some weeks ago and although he did not make the final selection, he was nonetheless thrilled to be honoured.
“It was nice to be included among the elite players,” he reflects.
“That was a bonus following Kilcoo’s county championship win. If we could reach the Ulster club final that would be a big feather in our caps but St Gall’s will be very tough opponents because of their experience, tradition and hunger.”