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Kilcoo players line up to lavish praise on mastermind boss Moran

 

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Hugely popular: Mickey Moran is revered in Kilcoo following the club’s success under his baton

Hugely popular: Mickey Moran is revered in Kilcoo following the club’s success under his baton

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Hugely popular: Mickey Moran is revered in Kilcoo following the club’s success under his baton

Kilcoo may have landed six Down titles on the bounce before Mickey Moran was/ parachuted into the manager's role, but since then the club has been transformed.

The fact that their dominance in the Mourne County had not been complemented by success on the Ulster stage was beginning to become more akin to a festering sore than a source of mild disappointment.

But when Moran confirmed when the initial approach for his services was made by the club that he felt the squad they currently possessed had it within them to finally win an Ulster Club title, apprehension was replaced by optimism, and an inferiority complex gave way to towering self-belief.

Moran's influence within the club has not so much been encouraging as stunningly absolute - within a short period of taking up his post, he had achieved god-like sporting stature.

Today, Moran will put the last of the details to Kilcoo's plans for tomorrow's All-Ireland Club final against Corofin in the knowledge that his players feel he can make them walk on water.

Joint skipper Aidan Branagan leads the chorus of approval that has resonated within the club even since the Down title was reclaimed in the autumn, and sights were immediately set on higher things.

"I well recall when Mickey told us even before he was formally appointed that he felt we had it within us to win the Ulster Club. There came an extra spring into our step and the boys could not wait to get down to training," recalled Branagan.

"There is just something about him that is unique, his manner and the way he carries himself. You could not but have the highest respect for him.

"He is truly a legend in our eyes for what he has done for us so far."

Like Branagan, long-serving centre-half-forward Paul Devlin has experienced the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on the Ulster Club stage, but when the side beat Naomh Conaill in the recent provincial final, he admitted a feeling of relief enveloped the club.

"I think we had despaired of ever winning an Ulster Club crown, but what Mickey did in the first instance was to change our thinking," reflected Devlin.

"We took things on from there and when we beat Naomh Conaill, that instilled further belief in us.

"Getting over the line in that game was really a memorable milestone and it gave us the confidence to approach our All-Ireland semi-final in a positive frame of mind."

Devlin's brother Martin plays for the club, while his father is a former player, and the family are simply steeped in Gaelic football.

Even their huge interest and that of other families in the area has mushroomed further since Moran's arrival.

The manager's magnetic presence appears to illuminate the club's headquarters in a way that could not have been deemed imaginable during recent years when the team was striving in vain for recognition that went outside of their county boundary.

"There is just something about Mickey that tends to make a big impact on people. Don't ask me what it is, but whatever it is it should be bottled and marketed," smiled Devlin.

Conor Laverty has served Kilcoo and Down with distinction and at 34 thought that an Ulster title triumph would be outside his compass with the passing years.

But he candidly admits that the arrival of Moran changed his outlook and he is currently playing with all the enthusiasm of a teenager.

"I can't speak highly enough of Mickey, he is a one-off," insisted Laverty.

"He has made us believe in ourselves. I suppose if you had asked us in the earlier part of last year would we have been happy with a Down title we might have said yes, yet here we are with the county crown and the Ulster title in the bag.

"Now we're 60-odd minutes away from All-Ireland glory and this, in my opinion, is all because of the influence of Mickey Moran."

Belfast Telegraph