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Paul Devlin keen to repeat Kilcoo heroics

By John Campbell

Paul Devlin has been making something of a habit of rescuing Ulster club finalists Kilcoo when they find themselves swimming against the tide.

In last year's provincial club semi-final, the cultured playmaker joined Ger McEvoy in hoisting over the two points that gave the side a surprise 1-9 to 0-10 victory over favourites St Gall's.

Then in the recent Down decider against Burren, Devlin once again proved Kilcoo's knight in shining armour when his two injury-time points took his team to a 0-9 to 0-7 win that secured their passage into Sunday's provincial club quarter-final against reigning champions Crossmaglen Rangers.

This will, of course, be a rerun of last year's final and although 23-year-old Devlin performed capably in that game, he was unable to work the oracle for his side.

And this makes him more determined to influence the outcome of Sunday's Pairc Esler confrontation which has stoked fervour to such an extent in Down and Armagh that a record crowd for a club game other than a final is being predicted.

"Any side with aspirations of making an impact in Ulster has to contend with Crossmaglen Rangers sooner or later," states Devlin. "This time round we are getting them at the quarter-final stage but we are ready for the challenge.

"While we had a narrow squeak in the county final, we have to remember that Burren are a very good side. We had our work cut out for us and we really could not have asked for better preparation for meeting the Rangers."

In last year's decider, Rangers finished with thirteen players and afterwards fury erupted when their half-forward Aaron Cunningham complained that he had been the victim of racist verbal abuse during the game.

A Kilcoo fan was handed a life ban and utility player Aidan Branagan was suspended for four months with the whole issue leaving a distinctly sour taste in the mouth.

But from Kilcoo's perspective, it's now onwards and upwards with manager Jim McCorry consigning what happened twelve months ago very much to the past.

"We have a major fixture to fulfil on Sunday and the important thing is that we come out on the right side this time," asserts McCorry. "In the final last year, it was the three goals which Crossmaglen got that killed us off so we have to be very tight defensively on this occasion."

And for his part, Devlin is keen to stamp his authority on the proceedings through his creative skills although should he be afforded scoring chances he will be only too happy to avail of them.

"I don't mind who gets the scores as long as we win. We were very disappointed with the outcome last year and we want to do ourselves justice," he added.

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