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Conor Laverty set for unique double bid with club and county



Big weekend: Kilcoo joint captain Conor Laverty is targeting major dual boost

Big weekend: Kilcoo joint captain Conor Laverty is targeting major dual boost

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Big weekend: Kilcoo joint captain Conor Laverty is targeting major dual boost

Kilcoo joint captain Conor Laverty is in the unique position of sharing in not one but two potential cup triumphs this weekend.

Tomorrow night, the Monaghan side which has Laverty as a member of manager Seamus McEnaney's backroom team will take on Tyrone in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (7.30), while on Sunday, the former Down ace will be in action at Croke Park with his club in the All-Ireland final against Corofin.

It's a weekend that will emphasise yet again Laverty's towering commitment to a sport which has been a key element in his life for two decades.

Now 34 and a father of four, Laverty's day job is his role as director of football development at Trinity College, Dublin, so it could be said that he is consumed by the sport.

Nevertheless, although Kilcoo's appearance at Headquarters could be a once in a lifetime occurrence from his perspective, the diligent Laverty is particularly keen to see Monaghan thrive against Tyrone.

"It's certainly all happening this weekend, but then you wouldn't want it any other way," smiles Laverty.

"To be playing in Croke Park is a dream come true for this Kilcoo team, and the important thing is that we do ourselves justice against a Corofin side that is rightly regarded as one of the best in the modern era."

Laverty's pace, guile and vision have been central to Kilcoo's onward march, and when be dropped deep to help his defence in the closing stages of the All-Ireland semi-final against Ballyboden St Enda's, he made two smart interceptions that stifled the Dublin team's efforts to get the goal they so badly needed at that stage.

Kilcoo assistant boss Conleith Gilligan believes that Laverty has been a huge influence and suggests that his experience can prove a key weapon in the team's overall armoury on Sunday, especially if the heat comes on.

"Conor has shown his ability in game management, and that means showing control and calmness in the closing stages of matches. He has been using this to good effect for us and, if required to do so again on Sunday, I have no doubt that he will deliver because in my view he is the quintessential team player," states Gilligan.

The Kilcoo joint skipper's shrewd footballing brain, totally unselfish approach when in possession and penchant for popping up in every corner of the pitch combine to invariably help to ease pressure on colleagues - something that Gilligan sees as central to the team's overall strategy.

"I think Conor leads by example," states Gilligan.

"He will have an invaluable role to play in Croke Park on Sunday, I have no doubt about that, and I hope he has reason to celebrate a double success should Monaghan win."

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney was at Kingspan Breffni to see Kilcoo beat Ballyboden in the All-Ireland semi-final and he will be there again on Sunday to watch them in the final.

And while there is a clamour in some quarters for the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup competition to be scrapped following Donegal's failure to field against Monaghan in last Sunday's semi-final, McEnaney certainly does not buy into this line of thought.

"In Monaghan we have the height of respect for the McKenna Cup. We might have missed out on playing a semi-final last weekend, but over the years we have found it a very good competition in which to blood players. We will be giving seven or eight largely untried players the chance to show what they can do," reveals McEnaney.

"The fact that they are going in against a Tyrone side which has won three games so far this month means that they will really be put to the test, and this will let them know just where they stand.

"Donegal were not able to field a side against us last weekend but they found themselves in a difficult position and I bear no grudges because of that," adds McEnaney.

"We are where we are, and now the whole focus is on this final against Tyrone, who are not surprisingly deemed to be the McKenna Cup competition specialists."

Belfast Telegraph