Ulster Club Championship semi-final Kilcoo v Maghery
Kilcoo are through to a second Ulster Club Final, they lost to Crossmaglen in 2012, where they will play Slaughtneil, the 2014 Ulster champions who are going for a clean sweep of Ulster Camogie, Hurling and Football titles, should be quite a match.
Kilcoo always had the look of winners about them even before Maghery pressed the self-destruct bottom and were reduced to fourteen men late in the first half.
The technical and tenacious tackling ability of the Down champions never let the Armagh men settle on the ball and their impressive fitness levels meant that there was no let-up in their efforts from the first to the sixtieth minute. Also, they have used this season to blood so many young players, straining at the bit to get over the white line, that even when a match is won and the bench is emptied the intensity levels never drop.
Maghery opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Conor Mackle collected a Stefan Forker layoff and sped in to point but even at this early stage Maghery were being wound into the Magpie web. Conor Laverty operating as a lone front man was winning frees off almost every ball and the Armagh champions collected two early yellow cards for over-zealous tackles.
Paul Devlin drew Kilcoo level following another foul on Laverty and then in the eighth minute Eugene Branagan took a Laverty pass to put Kilcoo in front and within six minutes they were almost out of sight.
Laverty placed Celium Doherty for point, Paul Devlin pointed from a free and from open play, and Ryan Johnston made it five one in the fourteenth minute.
Maghery had their chances but wanted too long on the ball against a swarming Kilcoo defence and they shot wides from frees and from good positions before Aidan Forker landed their second point in the seventeenth minute from a free.
Another foul on Conor Laverty, another pointed Paul Devlin free before Conor Mackle fired over long range for double scores 0-3 to 0-6.
Conor Laverty’s jinking runs in front of the posts and the fouls committed on him gave Paul Devlin his fourth point of the half and Martin Devlin pointed their eighth soon after.
Finally, Maghery ended Eoin Scullion’s torment when they substituted him and Laverty took his new marker Kevin Nugent out the pitch but Ryan Johnston took over at the point of the attack and the Kilcoo tactic remained the same with Johnston’s lightning pace an added threat immediately exploited by Daryl Branagan whose pass sent Johnston clear and with only the keeper to beat he sent a screamer to the roof of the net.
It was obvious Maghery had no answer to the movement, passing, strength and awareness of the Kilcoo players and the match as a contest was over.
Aidan Forker added his second free in stoppage time but when he won a third his discipline let him down and instead of a tap over point the ball was hopped and he was red carded.
Niall Kane tipped over a Ronan Lappin shot on the restart before Kilcoo pounced for their second goal when Laverty and Johnston combined to present Ceilum Doherty with a thirty-fourth minute tap-in.
Maghery replied with the next four points, three from frees, a couple of them the sympathetic variety, before Aaron Morgan punched Kilcoo six clear with ten minutes remaining.
Then Conor Lavery now operating further out the field began the move which led to Kilcoo’s third goal after some crisp passing had cut the Maghery defence to shreds and JJ McLaughlin arrived on cue to blast to the net and only moments later, when Gary McEvoy’s shot was half blocked, Ceilum Doherty ran in his second goal.
Ryan Johnston and Donal Kane added points apiece before four more were equally shared between the teams in time added on before the final whistle sounded.
Kilcoo: Niall Kane, Niall McEvoy, Darragh O’Hanlon, Niall Branagan, Daryl Branagan, Eugene Branagan 0-1, Aaron Branagan, James McClean, Felim McGreevy,
Ryan Johnston 1-3, Aaron Morgan 0-1, Ceilum Doherty 2-1, Conor Laverty, Paul Devlin 0-4 (3f), Martin Devlin 0-1.
Subs: Donal Kane 0-1 (f), JJ McLoughlin 1-0, Gerard McEvoy 0-1, Gary McEvoy, Niall Morgan, Patrick Devlin.
Maghery: Johnny Montgomery, Kevin Nugent, Oisin Lappin, Gerard Campbell,
David Lavery, Ciaran Higgins, Niall Forker 0-1, James Lavery, Ben Crealey 0-1,
Eoin Scullion, Conor Mackle 0-2, Stefan Forker 0-4 (2f), Ronan Lappin 0-1, Aidan Forker 0-2 (2f), Stephen Cusack.
Subs: Steven Fox, Seamus Forker 0-1 (f), Paul Forker, Shea Tennyson, Jack Lavery.