Kilcar are celebrating a fourth Division One league crown in six seasons

Kilcar are celebrating a fourth Division One league crown in six seasons

Kilcar are celebrating another Democrat Cup success following last Sunday evening’s win over Cloughaneely in Towney.

They are league champions for a fourth time in six seasons and the side managed by Barry Doherty have won it in fine style with three games to spare.

They are sitting on 29 points from a possible 30, having dropped just one point in 15 games and cannot be caught by the chasing pack of Naomh Conaill, St Eunans and Gaoth Dobhair.

Last Sunday evening’s triumph also saw the club capture a 14th Donegal league crown.

They have now moved to the top of the league roll of honour with 14 league titles, one more than Gaoth Dobhair.

The four league titles in six seasons is all the more impressive given they achieved it without having their three county players Ryan and Eoin McHugh and Patrick McBrearty.

“The league has gone well for us and it is good to win it back again,” said Kilcar boss Barry Doherty, who guided the club to its first league and championship double in 2017.

“To win it with three games to spare is a bonus. It allows us now to focus on the championship and getting ready in the next three weeks.

“We put in more of an effort and worked a good bit harder this year than we did last year and thankfully that work has paid off.

“It was a good league because we used it to blood a number of young players.

“Pauric McShane and Patrick McShane made the step up from underage this season and have played most of the games in the league.

“Brian O’Donnell is another young lad who got some game time last year but has played in most of the games in this season’s league.

“We like to bring in a few young lads every year and the league gives us the opportunity to do so. We also felt after last year we needed to strengthen the squad to cover for injuries.

“When we lost Patrick (McBrearty) and Ryan (McHugh) last year for the championship we found we were short on numbers. But the boys have come in this season and have done well.

“Conor Doherty, Mark Sweeney and Andrew McClean are other young lads that have come in the team in recent years and are a year older and a year wiser and have matured into fine senior footballers.

“Those lads are playing well week in and week out and they have come on in leaps and bounds this season.”

As for not having the county players Doherty is philosophical: “The bottom line is the most you will have your county players for is five or six games and it is something clubs are going to have to live with.

“The club took a decision a few years back to play away without the county men.

“James McHugh was the manager at the time and I remember James bringing it up at a club meeting that we should play without our county players.

“It was a big decision at the time because we had five or six men in the county squad at the time. But as the results show we have won four leagues and one championship; it was one of the best decisions we as a club ever made. And fair play to James for pushing for it.”

Apart from veterans Michael Hegarty, who turned 40 earlier this year, and Conor McShane who is 38, the league champions are a young team.

“Ciaran McGinley was 30 last week. Mark McHugh is around the 30 mark but the rest of the lads are in their early to mid 20s and we feel we have a good mix.

“Michael and Conor still have a lot to offer and are key men for us. We have eased Michael (Hegarty) back into team and we rested him last weekend because he was carrying a knock.

“But he looks after himself and is in good shape and still has a lot to offer the team and it is a similar story with Conor, he is in very good shape.”

Kilcar are in Group D in the Michael Murphy Senior Championship along with Malin,Termon and Bundoran.

They have two home games - Malin and Termon - and away to Bundoran.

“We still have a number of games to play in the league. But the good thing about having it won with a few games to spare means we can now focus on the championship over the next few weeks.

“We will train as normal this week and we hope to have Ryan (McHugh) and Patrick (McBrearty) back training with us next week. Eoin (McHugh) was back with us on Sunday and played against Cloughaneely. He had a very good game and scored 1-4. He has played very little football this season.”