Encouraging times for Kilcar
By Cian O’Connell
For 24 years Kilcar journeyed with hope so the past month has brought joy to a place where football and sport will always be high on the agenda.
That is just the way it is. Between 1980 and 1993 Kilcar claimed four Donegal crowns, a gifted collection of footballers arrived at the one time. Now some of their sons are bringing glory and silverware back to Kilcar.
The smashing Ulster SFC Quarter-Final triumph over Scotstown suggested that Kilcar can make an impact in the province, but they face Slaughtneil on Saturday evening in a match dripping with intrigue.
“There is great excitement here in Kilcar at the moment,” Kilcar Chairman John Carr acknowledges. “We are on a bit of a rollercoaster, we are after winning the Championship for the first time in 24 years, it was a monkey off our back.
“The following week we did the double by winning the Senior League. It was the first time the club had achieved that and we also won the Reserve Senior League.
“So things have been happening fairly quickly. We had our big day out against Scotstown which surprised a lot of people, but we knew that type of a performance was in our team.”
Slaughtneil’s remarkable rise as a force in both codes in Ulster has injected clubs throughout the country with hope. Similarities exist in Kilcar according to Carr.
“There is huge interest,” Carr says about the upcoming match. “Slaughtneil would be like ourselves, just a small rural area with a very strong community like we have here in Kilcar. I'm sure everything is buzzing there, I know they have been on the road a lot longer than we have.
“Kilcar is one of the smallest club areas in Donegal. We would be picking from about 400 families, maybe a population of around 1400 or 1500. So it is quite a small area.
“It is brilliant since we reached the County Final, everyone has been on a high. Last weekend we opened our new state of the art floodlit training pitch.
“We have just heard from our County Board that we have been nominated as Club of the Year and Patrick McBrearty has received Donegal Player of the Year so everything is happening. It really is like a rollercoaster and hopefully it can continue next Saturday night.”
Carr is encouraged by how Kilcar have re-emerged in recent years as a respected team in Donegal. “We have a bunch of lads, maybe nine or 10, who came through from minor and Under 21 together,” Carr states.
“They won a couple of minor titles and Under 21 titles so they are key in our team along with the more experienced players like Michael Hegarty and Conor McShane.
“We put a lot of emphasis on our underage structure, coaching from an early age from Under 8s and Under 10s.
“Those lads would have all been coached together coming up through the ranks. Also the local school, Colaiste na Carraige, we have a local man working there, Neilly Byrne, he worked at schools level with these lads. He put a tremendous amount of work in to do well in Ulster. There is a lot of work done both in the club and in school which is paying great dividends.”
Carr accepts the strength and unity that exists within the club, highlighting the links with the most decorated Kilcar generation. “A lot of their parents would have played for Kilcar in the 80s on a successful team. The McBrearty lads, the Shovlins, the McHughs, the McGinleys, who are actually nephews of mine, their dad would have been a stalwart for a number of years.
“There is a huge connection going back to the team of the 80s and early 90s when we won our last Championship.”
Those families continue to serve the Kilcar cause. Slaughtneil will provide a seriously stern test in Omagh on Saturday evening, and a fascinating hour is imminent.