Kilcoo came a cropper at wet and murky Armagh

November 18, 2013

Kilcoo Eoghan Rua 0-9 Ballinderry Shamrocks1-10

Kilcoo came a cropper at wet and murky Armagh on Sunday, outplayed by the Derry champions in a disappointing finale to their Championship season.

Kilcoo’s two matches and two periods of extra time over the past two weeks and the injuries they sustained ate into their energy packed style of play and they were rarely on the front foot during the hour’s football failing to recreate the form which deposed the Ulster Champions Crossmaglen.

Championship football is very much ‘on the day’ and on this particular day Ballinderry were deserving victors, they created lots of space and scoring opportunities in the first twenty minutes and proved a powerful, physically strong team full of craft and guile, hard to dispossess and full of off the ball running.

On Sunday Kilcoo could not match them even though for twenty minutes the Down champions had an extra man and for a further fifteen minutes had two extra men!

Though Darragh O’Hanlon opened the scoring in the second minute with a fifty metre free for Kilcoo they would go a further eighteen minutes before their second score, another Darragh O’Hanlon free.

Between times Ballinderry dominated in almost every sector. Ryan Bell levelled with a mighty shot from way out on the wing and Michael McIver put them ahead after Stephen Kane had done well to hack clear a dangerous cross. Veteran Conleth Gilligan made it three one before Stephen Kane was again in action saving bravely to deny Daniel McKinless and then the Shamrocks missed an open goal when Mossy McGuckin pulled his shot wide of a gaping goal.

The pressure told however when in the fourteenth minute Ballinderry’s pace and power again opened the Kilcoo defence when Kevin McGuckin released Raymond Wilson on an overlap up the right wing and he slipped the ball inside to Daniel McKinless who squared it to Michael McIver arriving off his left shoulder and from close range he made no mistake.

Dermot McGuckin and Ryan Bell quickly added points apiece and Ballinderry were 1-5 from play to Kilcoo’s solitary free with twenty minutes played.

Conor Lavery drifted from full forward in search of ball and was fouled for Darragh O’Hanlon’s second free and soon after placed Paul Devlin for a point from play.

Then Ballinderry midfielder Kevin McGuckin got entangled in an off the ball incident, struck out and was red carded but Kilcoo did not take advantage  being too laboured in their build up and not able to break the tackle and their next two attacks ended up in Michael Conlon’s grasp as the Shamrocks keeper comfortably cleared the danger.

Two minutes from the break Conor Laverty got on the end of a Darragh O’Hanlon cross and reduced the deficit to double scores, 1-5 to 0-4, but there was still time for Conleth Gilligan to fire across the goals and just inside the far post to restore Ballinderry’s five point cushion.

Jerome Johnston came on for the second half and opened the scoring with a thirty second minute point but Kilcoo were unable to press on and frees from Colin Devlin in the thirty sixth, thirty eighth and forty fourth minutes pushed Ballinderry seven points clear despite losing Ryan Scott to a second yellow card.

Despite their two man numerical advantage Kilcoo were struggling to get through for scores before an injection of pace led to points from Sean O’Hanlon and Sean Devlin and a third Darragh O’Hanlon free as the physical toll told on Ballinderry with players cramping up all over the place.

With ten minutes to play only four points separated the teams but Ballinderry slowed the game down with three substitutions. James Conway was lucky to escape a red card before a Paul Devlin free left only one score, a goal, between them. It almost came when Michael Conlon lost possession on a foray from between the posts but his defence came to his rescue.

Chasing the result Kilcoo lost their composure in the closing moments picking up two red cards for Ryan Johnston and Paul Greenan before Michael McIver popped up with the insurance point in added time.

Kilcoo: Stephen Kane; Niall Branagan, Niall Morgan, Daryl Branagan; Darragh O’Hanlon 0-3, Sean O’Hanlon 0-1, Gerard McEvoy; Aidan Branagan, Paul Greenan;  James McClean, Niall McEvoy, Ryan Johnston; Paul Devlin 0-2, Conor Laverty 0-1, Gary McEvoy.

Subs: Jerome Johnston 0-1, Sean Devlin 0-1.

Ballinderry – Michael Conlan; Ryan Scott, Conor Nevin, Michael McIver 1-2; Raymond Wilson, Gareth McKinless, Darren Lawn; Kevin McGuckin, James Conway; Daniel McKinless, Mossy McGuckin, Dermot McGuckin 0-1; Colin Devlin 0-3, Ryan Bell 0-2, Conleth Gilligan 0-2.

Subs: Enda Muldoon, Darren Conway, Fintan Bell, Raymond Wilkinson, Patrick Crozier.