As both a player and coach, footballer Conor Laverty has many feathers in his cap. Most recently the Down man won a coveted All-Ireland with his club Kilcoo, seeing-off Dublin powerhouse Kilmacud Crokes in the February final.

He is also the GAA development officer at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and manager of the Down U20s, steering them to an Ulster title last year.

He and his management team (which includes none other than Meath legend Seán Boylan!) are back again this season.

Conor’s name was bandied about in conjunction with the manager’s role for the Down seniors late last year, which he distanced himself from.

Conor Laverty pictured as part of the AIB GAA football All-Ireland senior club championship.

I mention this to him, asking is he happy enough doing what he’s doing. He casually laughs: “I’m happy enough as a Kilcoo player.”

Undoubtedly, Conor has GAA prestige aplenty, but it’s abundantly clear speaking with him that he takes little to no notice of this. With five boys at home – Setanta (10), Conleith (seven), Conor Óg (six), Fiachra (three) and Cahair (four months) – one of Conor’s favourite things to do with regard to football is coach the underage Kilcoo teams.

Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty and family celebrate after the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final match between Kilcoo, Down, and Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin, at Croke Park in Dublin. \ Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“I do a bit of coaching at the club,” Conor says. “I do the 7s and the 9s and help out with the minors. Och, I love the 7s and 9s. I love them, I love them. It’s my favourite thing of the whole lot. Wee boys just love playing football, you’d want to see them going at it. They’re brilliant.”

Kilcoo club

Despite the fact that he’s only in his 30s, Conor’s coaching history goes back a long way. At the age of 16 he was training the Kilcoo U12s, some of whom are playing on the senior club team with him now.

Conor Laverty pictured as part of the AIB GAA football All-Ireland senior club championship.

“It would probably be unheard of now if you said you were letting a 16/17 year old manage 12 year olds, but that’s how times have changed,” he says. “That was an enjoyable time as well.”

While their opponents in the All-Ireland final were from a highly populated Dublin suburb, Kilcoo is a relatively small rural village.

“We’re a very small rural village based at the foot of the Mourne Mountains,” Conor explains. “We would only have about 1,000 people in our village. We’ve a small shop, a chapel, a small primary school and that’s us. All the team would have come through that primary school.”

Conor Laverty pictured as part of the AIB GAA football All-Ireland senior club championship.

It’s hard to overstate, Conor continues, the importance of club in a place like Kilcoo.

“The club is the heartbeat of the community. Our community centre is actually at the pitch. Everything goes through the club, even any of the community associations, it’s always the club that’s at the fore of it. Everybody’s involved in some capacity in the club.”


While Conor likes chatting about football and we discuss in detail the progress and prospects of both the Down U20 and Trinity teams, he really lights up when speaking about farming.

Conor has a hill flock of Scottish Blackface sheep, which he will start lambing at the beginning of April (with a few beef cattle thrown in for good measure). He keeps the sheep on the Mourne Mountains, bringing them down to lower ground to lamb outside.

Conor Laverty pictured as part of the AIB GAA football All-Ireland senior club championship.

You’ve probably picked up on this already, but Conor is fairly busy. He has to travel to Dublin for work regularly, then there’s managing Down U20s, all the various Kilcoo trainings, five boys at home and a farm thrown in on top of all that.

Really though, Conor doesn’t indulge this busy schedule at all. Just acknowledging it’s busy but enjoyable.

“It’s a busy schedule, but it just works. I’m very lucky that I’ve got a very supportive family at home who help me accommodate that. I don’t know any different. It’s always worked. And listen, it’s enjoyable, so don’t fix it when it’s not broke now.”

Interestingly, despite everything he does, farming is the thing Conor finds most enjoyable.

“I think for me anyway, that’s the one thing that I really enjoy and it’s a release,” he explains. “There’s no signal on the phone at the farm and you just switch off. It’s just a great release and then it’s brilliant being able to spend that quality time with the boys who really enjoy it as well.”

As well as training footballers, Conor is also into training dogs. Working his dogs on the mountain is one of his favourite things to do.

“There’s nothing as good as heading away of a morning with the boys to gather on the mountain with the dogs. Being able to take the dogs to the mountain and being able to work them is one of the things I enjoy most, more than anything.”

If he had more time, Conor would put some of it into training dogs, but luckily he has a good helper now.

“The boys are good. Setanta is at an age where he’s good at the basics of it. So then maybe it takes a wee bit of pressure off me that end. Och listen, it’s a real enjoyable thing. My father-in-law was a good handler and he then taught me.”

Conor Laverty certainly has plenty on the go when it comes to football, but it’s to the farm he turns to get away from it all.

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