Saturday 24 February 2018

Classy Kilcoo stay kings of the Mourne

Kilcoo 3-10 Castlewellan 0-11

Kilcoo ran out easy winners of the Down football final to continue their dominance of the club scene
Kilcoo ran out easy winners of the Down football final to continue their dominance of the club scene Newsdesk Newsdesk

Kilcoo ran out easy winners of the Down football final to continue their dominance of the club scene after a very poor decider in Páirc Esler.

First-half goals from Jerome Johnston and Paul Greenan gave Kilcoo a comfortable lead and they coasted to a fourth championship crown in five years.

Ryan Johnston bagged a third goal in the 45th minute to put the finishing touches to a one-sided victory. Perhaps feeling their achievements haven't been given due credit within the county, Down forward Conor Laverty addressed the supporters after captain Aidan Branagan lifted the cup.

"To the people who knocked this team and questioned the players and management and put obstacles in our way, keep on knocking - because we're going nowhere," he said.

Over-elaboration threatened to hurt Kilcoo in the opening half as they took too much out of the ball.

They should have led by more than 2-2 to 0-4 at the break and wasted a lot of chances, with Paul Devlin having an off day with his free-taking, but Jerome Johnston and Conor Laverty were threatening up front.

A superb point from Daniel Morgan was brief respite for Castlewellan, who were appearing in their first final in 14 years.

But they had no answer to Kilcoo's superior movement and work rate.

Johnston struck in the 18th minute with a left-footed rocket to the net and midfielder Greenan fisted home a high ball after Laverty's attempt at a point dropped short.

Laverty hit a brace immediately after the restart with Aidan Burns nailing two frees for Castlewellan.

They never looked like getting back on level terms with Kilcoo more direct and running with a lot of pace on the break and Ryan Johnston's goal midway through the second half came at the end of a fine counter-attacking move.

The win sets Kilcoo up for an Ulster club quarter-final against Cavan champions Kingscourt in three weeks' time.

SCORERS - Kilcoo: R Johnston 1-2, J Johnston 1-2 (1f), P Greenan 1-0, C Laverty 0-2, P Devlin 0-2, A Morgan 0-2, D Ward 0-1. Castlewellan: A Burns 0-4 (3f), D Morgan 0-4, (3f), R Burns 0-1, D McKibben 0-1, F McGreevy 0-1.

KILCOO - S Kane; N Branagan, Aidan Branagan, D Branagan; Aaron Branagan, D O'Hanlon, A Fulcher; P Greenan, D McEvoy; A Morgan, R Johnston, P Devlin; M Devlin, C Laverty, J Johnston. Subs: A Devlin for Laverty (12), C Laverty for A Devlin (BC, 16), D Ward for M Devlin (40), F McGreevy for D McEvoy (44), Gary McEvoy for P Devlin (49), J McClean for Fulcher (50), Gerard McEvoy for Morgan (58)

CASTLEWELLAN - M Cunningham; A Brogan, R McArdle, B Travers; D Morgan, K Duffin, C Flanagan; R Burns, Conal Corrigan; L McKibben, D Gilmore, D McKibben; A Burns, S Dornan, Cahal Crilly. Subs: Caolan Corrigan for Brogan (44), F McGreevy for R Burns (46), L Toner for Conal Corrigan (48), S Hardy for Flanagan (50), D McGrady for Gilmore (53), Conor Crilly for Dornan (57)

REF - R Barry (Tullyish)

Irish Independent

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