The McGinley clan are a proud Kilcar family. On Sunday next, Ciaran McGinley will lead out Kilcar onto MacCumhaill Park and the team will get a great reception.
The Kilcar support is, arguably, the strongest in the county and will be fully behind their men. Ciaran McGinley will lead out a team that will be treading new ground. The entire panel will be taking to the field on county final day for the very first time; the rituals, the parade, etc.
Along with that the expectation on the shoulders of McGinley and his talented teammates is huge. They are expected to win.
No doubt Ciaran has been getting some advice from the old man this week. Back at the beginning of the Kilcar championship renaissance (in 1980) Sean also led Kilcar onto the field and went on to raise the Dr. Maguire Cup.
It was to be the start of a period of dominance for the South West side in league and championship. Back then Kilcar were more like the Glenswilly team of today, a few top performers (Michael Carr, Martin McHugh) and a host of feisty grafters in the likes of Charlie McGroarty, Din McBrearty, John Carr, John Quinn (a quartet who would have been a good fit for black cards!)
Now Kilcar have a team made up mostly of young stars - McHughs, McBreartys, McCleans, Conor Doherty, Pauric Carr supplemented by the likes of Conor McShane, Stephen Shovlin and the midfield base of captain McGinley and Michael Hegarty.
This latter pairing have been a big factor in Kilcar’s success. They have given the team a platform and they are able to compete in the middle of the field, something that might have been missing in other years.
The quiet-spoken captain has flirted with county football over the past number of years and many observers feel he has something to offer at that level still.
But for now, he has been an important cog in leading Kilcar back to county final day.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re all delighted that the day is here and we are all looking forward to the game next weekend,” said McGinley this week.
“There has been a great build up over the last week and it’s great for the parish to be back in the first final since 1993.”
While Kilcar have been knocking on the door for a number of years, what made the difference this year. “I would say there is a great confidence there. There is a belief that we can go on one step further this year. We have been knocking on the door but things probably didn’t go our way for a number of years.
“We just probably weren’t ready at the time, but hopefully now with the blend of youth and experience in the team now, hopefully we can take another step forward on Sunday,” said McGinley.
The midfielder, even though he is only 27, is one of the veterans of the team and he smiles when reminded of this. “Aye, it’s great. The pace that some of the young fellas have is amazing. There is a great blend there and everyone is pushing each other on; the young fellas are pushing the older fellas, and it’s great to see that. Everyone is putting the shoulder to the wheel.”
Looking forward to the final, Ciaran says they know what to expect. “We know what we will be up against. We met them a couple of times and they did get the better of us in a semi-final and quarter-final. It will be a tough task; they will be well set up and will be hard to break down.
“We got a good run against Glenties and we came through a tough game against Termon, so over the course of the season, confidence is high and so we would be looking forward and hopefully preparations will go well this week.
“There is a great buzz about the town. It’s great to see. The town has been quiet for a couple of years so hopefully this will bring a little life back home,” says Ciaran, who says he remembers very little about the 1993 win. “I was only four at the time. I’d say there’s only a handful of the team who would remember anything about that, but it’s great to be back.”
When asked if there was any likelihood of an ‘Up for the Match’ video being made this Saturday night in Kilcar with the players, Ciaran laughed: “I don’t think there will be anything like that. We will be tucked up in bed by that stage,” said Ciaran.
The big question is will he join the select list of Kilcar man (along with father Sean) to lift the Dr. Maguire Cup on Sunday evening.