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O'Hanlon and Doherty can return to boost Kilcoo after All-Ireland agony

 

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Big loss: Darragh O’Hanlon missed out on Kilcoo’s surge

Big loss: Darragh O’Hanlon missed out on Kilcoo’s surge

�INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Big loss: Darragh O’Hanlon missed out on Kilcoo’s surge

Kilcoo may have lost out in their bid to land a first All-Ireland Club title in Saturday's final defeat to Corofin, but pessimism is certainly not the prevailing element within the Down side.

Instead, there is an expectation that with the experience gained over the course of recent months and the hoped-for return to action of Darragh O'Hanlon and Ceilum Doherty, the club will renew their efforts to step into the history books.

O'Hanlon is a seasoned Down player known for his creative flair and intelligent use of the ball, while Doherty was only beginning to impress new Mourne manager Paddy Tally when injury ruled him out of the team's campaign.

But although he admits that they might find they will have to scale a bigger peak this year in their quest for county and provincial glory, assistant manager Conleith Gilligan believes the club will have the mental strength and enhanced physical resources to achieve this.

"This is essentially a very young Kilcoo team that is sprinkled with a bit of experience," pointed out Gilligan.

"There are a lot of other young players fighting to get into the side. From that perspective it's up to them to push to get into the team. The future is entirely in these players' hands. They are very talented and I believe that they have a very bright future."

But while Gilligan is convinced that Kilcoo can remain among football's club powerbrokers, his assessment comes with a warning.

"Everything has been signposted for everyone else now," stressed Gilligan, a business development manager with the Kerry Group.

"The competition always gets better and stronger as you move along. We recognise that other clubs and football in general is improving all the time and that means you have to work even harder to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

"When things don't go your way, you have to dust yourself down and get on with it. Corofin are definitely the greatest club football team of all time but we went toe-to-toe with them for long periods and eventually at the end of the day we unfortunately came up short."

Gilligan believes that the Kilcoo squad is imbued with qualities that can see them retain their position as one of the top outfits in the country.

"They have a great outlook and personality, they are very hungry to learn and they are just a pleasure to be with," he added.

While there is speculation in relation to manager Mickey Moran and Gilligan, Kilcoo officials certainly hope that they will remain in charge for the rest of this year - at least.

Belfast Telegraph