Donal O’Hare is the Star Man
Donal O Hare was the star of the show as Burren denied Kilcoo a piece of “seventh heaven” as their bid for a record 7 Down Senior titles in succession were scuppered in the main by a 2-5 haul for Man of the Match O’Hare. Twelve months ago, Kilcoo matched Burren’s 1980s’ feat but a year on, Paddy O’Rourke’s side gained sweet revenge. Burren’s victory saw them lifting the Frank O’Hare Cup for the 14th time which leaves them two behind Kilcoo’s record haul.
Kilcoo’s quest for seven successive senior titles came up short in an exciting County Final before an attendance of 6,526 at Pairc Esler on Sunday and with it their chance to impact on Ulster in a year in which the provincial crown looks more open than usual.
Kilcoo were much the better team in the first half but only went in on level terms, 2-3 to 0-9. Four amazing long range frees from outside the 45 from Burren keeper Cathal Murdock and three closer-in ones from Donal O’Hare kept the St Mary’s men in touch.
Kilcoo’s ability to ghost in unmarked past the Burren defensive shield including a sweeper had a touch of class about it and they probably should have had more than 2-2 from play in that opening half.
Burren had edged three points to two ahead when in the thirteenth minute a Paul Devlin cross field pass picked out Miceal Rooney who played the ball onto Ceilum Doherty who shot to the roof of the net.
Burren hit back to level at five all before Jerome Johnston goaled from the tightest of angles after good play from Malachy Morgan and Ceilum Doherty and when Paul Devlin tagged on a point from play, Kilcoo led 2-3 to 0-5 with twenty-three minutes on the clock.
Burren replied with another massive Murdock free, but this game was slipping away from them until Donal O’Hare stepped up to kick three unanswered points and send them in level at the break.
Paul Devlin sent over a free to put Kilcoo in front on the restart before a softish penalty award was capitalised on by Donal O’Hare who shot to the Kilcoo net.
However, O’Hare was ploughing a lone furrow for Burren and Kilcoo gradually got back on terms with another Paul Devlin free and a great score from distance from James McClean.
Donal O’Hare and Martin Devlin then swapped points before the end of the third quarter.
Ten minutes from time Donal O’Hare fired low across the goals into the bottom left hand corner for a decisive second goal and though Ryan Johnston pointed with his first touch having come on as a substitute, Kilcoo could not reel in the goal. Liam Kerr extended the Burren lead with Paul Devlin’s fourth free setting up a nervy finish. Kevin McKernan plucked one from the sky and Burren prevented Kilcoo getting a shot on goals before Ronan McGrath finished a breakaway with Burren’s insurance point.
In a fractious finish Ryan Johnston received a Red and Eamon Toner a Black as Burren held on for the win.
Kilcoo: Niall Kane, Patrick Devlin, Aidan Branagan, Niall Branagan, Miceal Rooney 0-1, Daryl Branagan, JJ McLaughlin, James McClean 0-1, Eugene Branagan, Jerome Johnston 1-0, Malachy Morgan, Ceilum Doherty 1-0, Martin Devlin 0-1, Conor Laverty, Paul Devlin 0-5 (4f)
Subs: Ryan Johnston 0-1, Ryan McEvoy, Gerard McEvoy, Felim McGreevy, Conor Laverty,
Burren: Cathal Murdock 0-4 (4f), Steve Fegan, Kevin McKernan, Ardan McAvoy, Conor Cox, Conaill McGovern, David McEntee, Declan Rooney, Ryan Treanor, Cathal Foy 0-1, Padraig Poland, Ronan McGrath 0-1, Liam Kerr 0-1, Eamon Toner, Donal O’Hare 2-5 (pen, 3f).
Subs: Shay McArdle, Connor Toner, Malachai McAvoy, Sean Murdock
The Down winners will play Scotstown or Derrygonnelly on Sunday 4th November at 2.30pm in Pairc Esler.