Thursday 14 December 2017

Kilcoo upset the odds to keep McCorry's final record intact


A goal in each half helped Kilcoo regain the title in Newry with a surprise win over favourites Mayobridge.

It was a poor final, littered with stoppages and nine yellow cards, but that was of little consequence to Kilcoo, who were crowned champions for the first time since 2009. They were the dominant team for most of the game, save for the last quarter when Mayobridge came storming back from eight points down and scored 1-2 inside seven minutes. That late flourish set up an exciting finish, with Benny Coulter camped around the edge of the square hoping to burst the net with a late goal, but Kilcoo held out, and deservedly so.

Manager Jim McCorry has now won five finals out of five with Kilcoo, including three leagues and two championships.

"You wonder when you're going to lose one, I was hoping it wouldn't be today," he smiled. "It is tinged with sadness that it's Mayobridge we've beaten because I have a lot of friends in Mayobridge -- but it's about Kilcoo now. We have Ballybay in Clones in the Ulster club in two weeks' time."

Mayobridge never really got going and they struggled to emulate their superb 14-point semi-final victory over Longstone. Kilcoo set the tone for the day with a goal in the second minute from county star Conor Laverty.

He reacted first to a mistake from goalkeeper Shealan Strain, who fumbled a back-pass, and toe-poked the ball into an empty net. It gave Kilcoo a lead they never surrendered.

The goal was still the difference between the teams at half-time, with Kilcoo ahead by 1-5 to 0-5.

Laverty played an unselfish role, winning the personal battle with county defender Conor Garvey, and setting up his team-mates for some impressive scores from distance.

Hard-working centre-forward Paul Devlin caught the eye with some accurate left-footed free-taking and two long-range points. Mayobridge played with a sweeper but there was too much lateral passing.

Kevin O'Rourke was one of the exceptions, coming on as a sub after 20 minutes and scoring a point within seconds. Big full-forward Cathal Magee also caused a few problems, but Kilcoo were comfortable in possession.

Midfielder Felim McGreevy scored the all-important second goal for Kilcoo in the 41st minute. The impressive Jerome Johnston sent a long high ball into the square and McGreevy beat full-back Brendan Rooney and the 'keeper in the air to fist the ball into the net. It looked all over with Kilcoo eight points ahead, but Mayobridge hit back with a 51st-minute goal.

Subs Kevin O'Rourke and Noel Sexton combined after Magee took a short free and O'Rourke drilled the ball home at the near post.

Kilcoo didn't score in the last 15 minutes and after points from Magee and Sexton, the four minutes of injury-time gave 'Bridge hope of a late equalising goal.

"Mayobridge threw the kitchen sink at us in the last 10 minutes but we were cool," added McCorry.

Scorers -- Kilcoo: P Devlin 0-5 (3f), F McGreevy 1-1, C Laverty 1-0, J Johnston, N McEvoy 0-1 each. Mayobridge: C Magee 0-4 (2f), K O'Rourke 1-1, C O'Hare, R Sexton, K Quinn 0-1 each. Kilcoo -- S Kane; N Branagan, N McEvoy, D Branagan; S O'Hanlon, A Branagan, G McEvoy; P Greenan, F McGreevy; J Johnston, P Devlin, D O'Hanlon; C Laverty, A Devlin, G McEvoy. Subs: R Johnston for A Devlin (48), A McEvoy for McGreevy (55), S Devlin for Greenan (60).

Mayobridge -- S Strain; K McClorey, B Rooney, K Lynchehaun; R Sexton, M Lively, C Garvey; S O'Hare, B Coulter; C O'Hare, K Gallagher, K Quinn; A Barry, C Magee, R Brady. Subs: K O'Rourke for Gallagher (19), N Sexton for Barry (31), E Woods for S O'Hare (35), S McNamee for Rooney (44), M Walsh for C O'Hare (60).

Ref -- C Branagan.

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