Ice cool Magpies see off battling Burren
Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Kilcoo 0-9 Burren 0-7.
ICE-COOL nerves and incisive kicking won the Frank O'Hare Cup for Kilcoo.
With mere seconds of normal time left in Sunday's Morgan Fuels Down Senior Championship Football Final at a muddy Pairc Esler, the Magpies were trailing Burren by a single point.
The match up to then had been a dour, feisty, foul-riddled and amazingly low-scoring affair with little to get the huge crowd excited. But there was high drama to come in the last few seconds of normal time and three minutes of injury time.
Kilcoo get a free-kick out on the right touchline, and directly under the gaze of some 5000 plus spectators packed jam-tight in the stand. Up stepped Darragh O'Hanlon who in previous matches had been scoring for fun. As yet in the final he hadn't scored - and few expected him to do so with at least 60-metres between him and the posts. But the highly competitive halfback produced arguably his greatest, and certainly most important, kick of his career to send the ball over the bar to level the game at seven points apiece.
That point was the catalyst to victory and the second of three vital incidents that earned the Magpies the Down Championship trophy. The first was the dismissal of Burren skipper Dan McCartan who collected a second yellow card mere seconds before O'Hanlon's kick. And the third was another free-kick, this time in a more favourable position but one that placed even more pressure on the kicker.
After two minutes of injury-time referee Gavin Corrigan adjudged Anton McArdle to have fouled Jerome Johnston out on the same right side of the field. This time the pressure was all on Paul Devlin. Many Kilcoo players refused to look as did many fans, both from Burren and Kilcoo, but right half forward Paul Devlin was coolness personified as he unerring drilled the 35-metre kick over the white spot as the ground erupted. Devlin grabbed an insurance score with virtually the last kick of the match before the Pairc Esler playing surface became home to joyous black and white clad spectators.
After the final whistle a much-relieved Kilcoo PRO Francis Rogan told the Democrat: "It was close until Paul Devlin scored that free-kick. I do have belief in the players although the excitement is not good for the auld heart. I nearly felt like passing out at times. But we got there in the end and we picked up another Down Championship."
Burren, managed by the experience Paddy Carr, opened the scoring on three minutes with a super James McGovern point from way out on left flank but Devlin levelled for the Magpies four minutes later.
Then sharpshooter Donal O'Hare eased St Mary's in front again with a free before Jamie McGovern added another on 16 minutes. Burren however, would not score again for 25 minutes. Still on 22 minutes they had a fine goal opportunity, but Conor Toner missed the base of the upright after a stunning five-man move.
Kilcoo, however, were beginning to show the green shoots of progress, inspired by a Man of the Match performance from full back Niall McEvoy who not only was a rock at the heart of his own defence but was equally effective as he charged forward at every available opportunity.
Darragh O'Hanlon almost netted on 25 minutes but his blistering drive thudded off the Burren woodwork. Although they did have some reward from that attack as Ryan Johnston picked up the rebound and pointed.
Approaching half-time Conor Laverty levelled with a Paul Devlin free giving Kilcoo a single-point interval lead.
On the resumption little was to change with both defences on top and forwards having little time or space to produce the goods.
Yet, on 36 minutes Paul Devlin put the Magpies further in front but Burren replied though an O'Hare free three minutes later. On 45 minutes Conaill McGovern squared the match when he fisted over after good work by Anton McArdle.
Burren at this stage had the bit between their teeth and Kevin McKernan stormed through onto a Conor Toner pass before punching over the Kilcoo bar. There were 13 minutes left. Who would produce that wee bit of magic to turn the match?
Well Conor Laverty had a try on 51 minutes and the wee man hit a magnificent angled point from way out on the left to again level things.
At six point apiece it looked like a replay loomed. Paul Devlin missed. Daryl Branagan had a shot blocked. But at the other end Jamie McGovern showed the Kilcoo duo how to do it when he ran onto an O'Hare pass before gleefully fisting over the bar. There were three minutes of normal time left, six minutes in total, including injury time with Burren one point to the good.
But misery was to descend on the St Mary's camp as Kilcoo did the business in arguably the most vital six minutes in the club's history when O'Hanlon and Devlin fired over those couple of truly memorable free-kicks.
Now after seeing off the not inconsiderable challenge of Burren and winning the O'Hare Cup, Jim McCorry's men now have an even bigger task as they face the mighty men from Crossmaglen at Pairc Esler on Sunday, November 3, in the Ulster Club Championship.
Kilcoo: Stephen Kane, Niall Branagan, Niall McEvoy, Daryl Branagan, Darragh O'Hanlon (0-1), Sean O'Hanlon, Gerard McEvoy, Paul Greenan, Aidan Branagan, Paul Devlin (0-5), Anthony Devlin, Ryan Johnston (0-1), Jerome Johnston, Conor Laverty (0-2) and Gary McEvoy. Subs: Felim McGreevy (for Gary McEvoy) and Aaron Branagan (for R Johnston).
Burren: Cathal Murdock, Dan McCartan, Gerard McCartan, Jamie McGovern (0-2), Kevin McKernan (0-1), Ryan McGovern, James McGovern (0-1), Conor Toner, Anton McArdle, Sean Murdock, Conaill McGovern (0-1), Donal O'Hare (0-2), Eamon Toner, Eoin McCartan and Shay McArdle. Subs: Gerard McGovern (for Eoin McCartan).ˇ
Send to a friend
Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.