Ryan McEvoy is hoping Kilcoo can put Down football “back on the map” again.
Down have struggled at inter-county and club level for over a quarter of a century, after hitting the pinnacle of both games in a glorious decade for the county.
It started with Burren landing All-Ireland club titles in 1986 and 1988, before Down took centre stage to claim All-Ireland senior crowns in 1991 and 1994.
Down haven’t managed an All-Ireland – club or county – at senior level since then.
In fact, they hadn’t even won an Ulster senior title at club or county level until Kilcoo bridged that 25 year gap back in 2019 to become just the third Down club to win a senior provincial crown.
After landing back to back Ulster titles last Sunday, Kilcoo are hungry for more.
They have their eyes firmly fixed on national silverware having come agonisingly close in their extra-time, 2020 All-Ireland club final defeat by Corofin.
Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty celebrates with his sons Conor Og, Fiachra, Setanta and Conlaoch with the cup
(Image: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane)
That hunt continues in 12 days time against Cork and Munster champions, St. Finbarr’s.
Free taking full back Ryan McEvoy said: “It is a huge honour to represent your county in Ulster and then the All-Ireland.
“Hopefully we can put Down back on the map.
“It’s been a long time since a Down team won an All-Ireland club and hopefully we can do that in a few weeks’ time.
“The Corofin game really hurt. After playing so well for so long and then just not getting over the line – it hurt.
“But then coming back into the 2020 season we had a job to do, to win Down and we took it game by game.
“Unfortunately the Ulster Championship last year wasn’t on (due to Covid).
“This year was all about winning Down and winning Ulster, hopefully going on to win an All-Ireland.”
If it comes to patience and sticking to the game plan, Kilcoo are unlikely to be beaten by anyone.
They conceded just 0-3 against Derrygonnelly last Sunday in recording a 16 point victory.
The cagey, defensive nature of the game and the reaction to it, didn’t bother Kilcoo and McEvoy, who had a job to do.
“We expected that they would set up defensively and try not to let us get in,” he said. “The last few games we have racked up big scores.
“We just knew we had to be patient and break down the defensive system.
“Thankfully in the first half we got in for the goal, which really set us off.
“The second half, it opened up a bit more when they had to push out. When we put in two more goals, there was really no way back once we had the goals.
“You just can’t get involved with the crowd. We have a job to do and have to play to a system.
“We just done it. We knew we would have to be patient and play about with the ball. And once we seen the opening, go for it.
“Possession is key and if you give away possession you are in trouble big time. Thank God, we retained it well.”