IT’S been a dream season for All-Ireland champions Kilcoo, and it’s fair to say that winning the Gaelic Life Footballer of the Year is the cherry on top for Magpie half-back Micéal Rooney.
Rooney’s defensive interception to prevent a certain goal in the All-Ireland final against Kilmacud Crokes will never be forgotten in Kilcoo and further afield, and it was very much a case of the right man in the right place at the right time.
Rooney had a magnificent season for the Magpies, and it wasn’t only in defence that he proved his worth. He broke forward for a Man of the Match performance in their crucial extra-time win over Glen in the semi-final. It was similar in the final as he got forward to add two scores and was unlucky not to find the net.
As modest as they come, Rooney said that he was delighted to pick up the individual accolade.
“I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be Ulster Club Footballer of the Year, especially looking at some of the calibre of players in the room with me. I never thought I’d get this so I’m chuffed to bits.”
It looked like Kilmacud Crokes had done enough to claim the victory in the latter stages of a marathon All-Ireland final clash, but Jerome Johnston’s smash-and-grab goal right at the death ensured a historic victory for the Magpies. Rooney said he never gave up hope at any stage of proceedings.
“I don’t know what goes through your head at that stage, I was praying someone would do something for us, but I knew growing up we’ve always been in those sorta situations and we thrive off them. I knew there was something in this team, we knew we couldn’t lose another final and that we had it in ourselves to salvage things.”
Last week it emerged that Mickey Moran had stepped aside as Kilcoo boss. It’s fair to say he’ll always be a legend of the club after leading them to the promised land.
“Mickey’s a gentleman, he’s very humble and doesn’t like the limelight. When we first got Mickey in we believed we could win the Ulster title so it was a very big thing for us.
“I’m delighted we got the All-Ireland as well alongside Mickey and the rest of the backroom team, everyone from one to 40 and the ladies who make the tea and everything. As Conor Laverty said, I’m glad Mickey can drive up the laneway as an All-Ireland champion.”