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Kilcoo celebrations muted, but Conleith Gilligan hails another special title after dominant display

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Kilcoo’s Anthony Morgan, Aaron Morgan and Shealin Johnston celebrate with the cup. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Kilcoo’s Anthony Morgan, Aaron Morgan and Shealin Johnston celebrate with the cup. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Kilcoo’s Anthony Morgan, Aaron Morgan and Shealin Johnston celebrate with the cup. Credit: INPHO/Bryan Keane

The acceptance speeches might have been muted, but it was an odd sense that Kilcoo coach Conleith Gilligan gave off afterwards when asked how they might celebrate this win.

Kilcoo are not big into the song and dance stuff after big wins. Joint captain Conor Laverty had to be talked out of taking a minor team training session when they won Ulster in 2019. Covid makes it even harder.

“It is strange,” said the Ballinderry man, an All-Ireland club winner with his club some 20 years ago.

“You have to mark it, these are very special occasion for people that don’t come every day but we are still not travelling on buses, not using changing rooms, the boys will throw their bag in but they are not showering there.

“We are just trying to stay as Covid safe as possible because it’s still a thing and it is probably the one thing that will derail you in the next week or two if it does happen to get into your team.”

All around the Athletic Grounds, there was a sense of bigger fish to fry. The celebrations at the end were remarkably muted.

“I suppose the way the scoreline finished out and the harder Derrygonnelly pushed to try and get something, they left gaps at the back and you know they got caught for a couple of goals,” reasoned Gilligan.

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“It was very unfair on them. Scorelines like that are not something those players deserve given what they have given through Fermanagh and through the competitions.

“And nobody really likes that. When the game was kind of gone a wee bit towards the end it does leave it a wee bit muted especially in a final that was really anticipated to be a lot closer.”

Still, it meant a lot to get back to this with last year have been written off.

“It was massive because last year we were going really well,” stated Gilligan. “We were probably playing better football than the year before.

“The team had changed a wee bit and I suppose some of our older players were a year younger.

“It was difficult because we had a bit of momentum from the year before. Covid meant that that was gone so we had to start again.”

He added: “The players that were a year older last year were now another year older but credit to them. They had won one Ulster after having a decade of nearly misses.

“To win it again is special, because I suppose most teams, they want to leave some sort of a legacy where they are not just a team that wins one, they want to win a couple.”

For now, Kilcoo will get ready for St Finbarr’s and their import, Conor McCrickard who hails from nearby Liatroim.

“We’ll get tonight over and start looking at that and planning because that’s the next challenge,” said Gilligan.




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