Michael Hegarty knows all about the big Ulster stage, but gracing it in the club colours has been a new experience.
The classy Hegarty has been rolling the years back in 2017, his 22nd year as a senior club footballer, and is aiming to continue the Kilcar voyage even further.
Hegarty famously came out of retirement in 2011 to win a first Ulster SFC with Donegal.
While he stepped away from inter-county football at the end of that campaign, thereby missing out on the 2012 All-Ireland win, Hegarty captured a first Donegal senior crown this year with his club.
And Sunday’s big win over Scotstown has put Kilcar into an Ulster semi-final with reigning champions Slaughtneil.
“Our goal was to try to win the Championship this year,” Hegarty said.
“We’ve been trying to do that the last couple of years and just to win that was big pressure off us.
“That was the one we wanted to win and now we’re in bonus territory.
“We came up to Clones relaxed. We knew that we had to play well at this level and things went well for us. We got the breaks – and you need the breaks.”
Kilcar’s 0-7 to 0-4 win over Naomh Conaill in the Donegal final was derided by many, but many forget that Kilcar had been in unstoppable form before then. And Sunday’s impressive dispatching of Scotstown was a further addition to that portfolio.
Hegarty said: “This performance has put that to bed. You have to alter your style against different teams. We showed that we can play good, open football too, but it doesn’t be like that every day.
“We came to Clones, the home of Ulster football, a new experience for us and the boys all played well.
“We settled well. We have a very young team and it’s a big experience for us to play in Ulster. We’re delighted to get over the line.”
The likes of Mark McHugh, Ryan McHugh, Eoin McHugh, Patrick McBrearty and Stephen McBrearty are backboning Kilcar’s surge, aided by Hegarty’s guile and timeless displays.
Hegarty said: “When we need a score, those boys can get us a score. They’re superb footballers. We’re building all the time. This is a new experience and we’re enjoying it at the moment.”
To some, Slaughtneil might seem a daunting prospect, but Kilcar are almost licking their lips at the prospect of a crack at the Derry kingpins.
Hegarty knows how well Slaughtneil will be tutored. For three years, just after the turn of the milennium, Hegarty worked in a Donegal team managed by Mickey Moran, now managing Slaughtneil.
Hegarty said: “The Donegal boys loved Mickey. He took the boys on so much. He’s a super man and has a great way with players. He loves to play football, it’s his life. You see that with Slaughtneil, the players are so comfortable on the ball.”Tags: