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Ulster glory would be a huge bonus, says Laverty

 

Lead role: Conor Laverty can inspire Kilcoo in Ulster title bid
Lead role: Conor Laverty can inspire Kilcoo in Ulster title bid
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Kilcoo captain Conor Laverty steadfastly refuses to dwell on the possibility that 24 hours might just not be enough in any given day for him.

If there is a walking advertisement for living a fulfilling life to the full, then the modest and unassuming Laverty is just that.

As Kilcoo prepare for their Ulster Club Championship opener against newly crowned Derry champions O'Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt in Newry on Sunday, Laverty's focus is very much on what is viewed as an attractive encounter, but not to the extent that he is taking his eye off the ball in other spheres.

A dedicated family man, he is also the GAA Development Officer at Trinity College, Dublin, as well being a newly-acquired member of Seamus McEnaney's Monaghan management team.

A daily commute to Dublin coupled with over a decade of ceaseless action with Kilcoo might be enough to persuade people of lesser durability to lob in the towel, but if anything Laverty's commitment is at a zenith just now.

His club have won seven of the last eight Down titles but have yet to strike gold in the Ulster club series.

For the pragmatic Laverty, who is held in the highest respect within the GAA as a whole, Sunday's assignment against Adrian Cush's born-again O'Donovan Rossa side is a big challenge but one that he prefers to keep in context.

"We are in bonus territory now because at the start of the season our target was to win the Down title again, which we lost to Burren last year, and we were very happy to achieve that," points out Laverty. "Warrenpoint are a very good side and they made it difficult for us in the final."

Having served Down in the past, Laverty's experience, selflessness and guile are currently underpinning a Kilcoo team which is still without long-term injury victim Darragh O'Hanlon but which has unearthed a midfield gem in the lion-hearted Dylan Ward.

Martin McCourt, Miceál O'Ruanaigh, Ryan McEvoy, Anthony Morgan and the indefatigable Ward are among the newer faces in a Kilcoo side which is still underpinned by a considerable raft of experience.

True to form, you won't hear any brash predictions emanating from the Kilcoo camp, where new manager Mickey Moran leads by quiet authority.

Suffice to say, though, that the Ulster Club Championship title has not rested in the Mourne county for over three decades.

It was when Burren were in their pomp in the 1980s that Ulster, and indeed All-Ireland, titles found a home there, but since then they have been conspicuous by their absence.

Should Laverty, the quintessential team player who can be found at the heart of his defence one moment and within the vicinity of the opposition posts the next, bring his leadership skills, creative flair and seemingly boundless work-rate into play, Kilcoo might yet serve notice that they have their sights firmly on the provincial prize.

Meanwhile, another Down side will take what they hope will be their first step towards glory. Glenn created a stir when they won the County Intermediate Championship title and now they will face Fermanagh side Kinawley in the Ulster Championship at Brewster Park, Enniskillen on Sunday (12.30pm).

Glenn skipper Conor Cranny believes that the way in which his side overcame Newry Shamrocks in the county final will provide the spur they need on Sunday.

"It was hard going against the Shamrocks but we stuck at it, and if we show the same spirit against Kinawley I don't think we will be too far away," states Cranny.

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