Magpies in final flight

Magpies in final flight

8 January 2020

MAGNIFICENT Cill Chua are through to the All-Ireland Club SFC final for the first time.

The Magpies overcame red hot favourites St Enda’s Ballyboden 2-8 to 0-11 at Kingspan Breffni on Saturday and they will now face defending champions Corofin at Croke Park on Sunday, January 19.

Goals from Ryan Johnston and Daryl Branagan proved crucial in cancelling out an eight-point haul from Ballyboden’s Basquel brothers in a thrilling encounter that went to the wire.

Cill Chua manager Mickey Moran changed things around for this clash and yet again his tactics proved spot-on as the Dublin kingpins were unable to break free from their shackles.

The amazing odyssey for the East Down side continues all the way to the biggest day in the club calendar against perhaps the greatest side in the history of club football — a fact that is not lost on team selector Conleth Gilligan.

“There’s a great buzz around Cill Chua at the moment and in the wider Down area in general,” he said after Saturday’s match.

“Down football has been a wee bit stagnant this last while. That will give everybody a lift going into the New Year.

Gilligan described Corofin as an “ncredible team”.

He went on: “For a club team to go with that level of consistency, we know the challenge that’s there. From that perspective, we’re there.

“We’re going to savour this good feeling and we’ll be back down to earth tomorrow with a bang knowing we’re playing one of the best club teams that probably ever played the game.”

Cill Chua have certainly flourished with the underdog’s mantle, but Gilligan is not unduly worried by that tag.

“It is not something we pay much attention to,” he revealed. “We went to a lot of games – even the county final in Down — with people tipping against us, so it isn’t unusual. It’s not something that’s ever talked about, but players are players and they want to put two fingers up to the critics and Kilcoo are no different,” he admitted.

Gilligand, who is manager Moran’s right hand man, is confident his side will acquit themselves well at Croke Park against Corofin.

“A team that is going for three All-Irelands, it’s phenomenal and we’ll just have to prepare as best we can and give the best account of ourselves,” he said.

“Getting to Croke Park is the pinnacle for every player. Some of these boys have been soldiering for 13-14 years.

“This is just reward for a lot of hard graft. It’s where we want to be and now our whole focus will be on trying to become the All-Ireland club champions.”

“Obviously, it’s a great thrill to be looking forward to playing at Croke Park. It will be a very special occasion for the club, but it’s a massive test at the same time.

“This club has shown tremendous determination over a number of years and now they will bid to do themselves justice on the biggest stage.”