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Gilligan remembers people who took winners to another level

Been there: Mickey Moran took Kilcoo the extra mile
Been there: Mickey Moran took Kilcoo the extra mile
Winning feeling: Conor Laverty celebrates with his son, Setanta
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

All season long, the media-shy Mickey Moran has requested his selector Conleith Gilligan to take care of media engagements. He was out here again and his naturally sunny disposition went up another couple of degrees after winning the trophy he captured as a Ballinderry player in 2001 and 2013.

Asked for his impressions of the Kilcoo community as they all partied on the pitch afterwards, Gilligan said: "We knew coming in that we were starting off (from) a very strong base. The work that Jim McCorry and Paul McIver had done before really set the thing up.

"Unluckily they came up short but today it would be remiss not to talk about the good work other people have done because it would be easy to take the credit now. So many people have done the work with these boys. We were lucky we were the ones who maybe tipped the scales but it could have happened in any other year."

The nature of the game was one that had repeated itself throughout their summer, he insisted, conditioning them not to panic as the scoreboard get tighter and tighter.

"Yeah that's the way it's been all year," he said. "Probably from the first round of the championships against An Riocht when we were down at half time, so being behind the conceding goals obably isn't unusual. This team has done it and that helped today because it didn't really rattle them too much."

"It's a strange one. I think Derrygonnelly didn't get the credit they deserved, they beat Trillick and were five in a row champions and we struggled to beat them because they are a very good team not because we played overly poorly.

"So from that perspective it was good to come in under the radar."

Thoughts then turned to the injury-stricken Darragh O'Hanlon, who ruptured his cruciate ligament this summer while coming back from spinal surgery.

"My heart breaks for him today, not able to play today with injury. They are just good people. All the talk about sheep, well that's real. They are sheep farmers - I'm just wondering when someone is going to ask me when the sheep will be milked this weekend."

Asked about the Mickey Moran factor, he stated: "Whenever you have someone like Mickey who has been there and done it there is always a bit of extra belief when someone knows how to go to that end, people will go that extra mile and that is what happened."

No doubt, this was an itch that needed scratching, but Gilligan insists they had to keep a lid on things.

"We tried not to talk about that but everybody else said it. All the build-up this week was how Kilcoo needed it more but we didn't buy into that.

"To be fair this was probably the most low-key fortnight we've had, we probably did more work for all the other games because this two weeks was about keeping them calm, take the emotion out of it, not to try and build it into something it's not and, to be fair, we managed to do that."

For a crestfallen Naomh Conaill manager Martin Regan, there was little left to say: "We came up short and we're disappointed. It's one we'll look at and, in a few weeks time, feel it was one that got away from us."

He dismissed a suggestion that they hadn't the time to get their head around the challenge of Kilcoo.

"No - we've seen enough of them the last few weeks to know they're a very good side. We were up against a seriously fine side. They've pace throughout their team.

"We knew we were going to struggle to keep a lid on that as it can come at you from every direction. There is no weak link there."

Still, he reflected on a season that brought incredible relief after a three-game marathon against Gaoth Dobhair that wrestled a Dr Maguire Cup out of their grasp.

"Of course we're disappointed and I feel we could have won this Ulster title. But it has been a good season. There is no doubt about that. Our aim was to win a Donegal championship."

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