Burren 2-12 Kilcoo 2-9

Burren tore up the script and smashed Kilcoo's dreams of a winning a seventh successive Down title with a brave victory in Páirc Esler.

The Frank O’Hare cup is no stranger to Burren, the last club to hold the title in 2011 before the Kilcoo’s reign.

A brace of goals from Donal O’Hare in the second half was the push the underdogs needed to get over the line past a somewhat jaded and injury-ravaged Kilcoo side, who left everything they had between the whitewash.

Burren’s efficient free-taking from goalkeeper Cathal Murdock and O’Hare allowed them to stay in touch with four unanswered scores to end the half and make the scoreline look some what misleading at the time.

The opening exchanges were settled by a pair of free’s awarded to both sides with county forwards Donal O’Hare and Paul Devlin duly obliged.

Once the game's pattern emerged, it was Kilcoo’s ball retention and movement that shone and they opened up a 1-02 to 0-03 lead on the 13th minute after Paul Devlin sprayed a pin point cross-field pass to Miceal Rooney who then laid it off to impressive Ceilum Doherty to fire to the net.

All seemed to be going to plan for the Magpies once Jerome Johnston added his goal, but Paddy O’Rourke’s side ability to hang tough when they were outplayed was key to their victory.

Captain Cathal Foy registered Burren’s first score from play on the quarter-hour while the downfall for Paul McIver’s charges was laid in that first half having played the majority of the football.

They went in level at half time but after the break, a long ball into Eamonn Toner on the edge of the Kilcoo square swung the game. The big full forward was fouled and O’Hare fired belief into each and every one of his teammates once his penalty hit the back of the net.

Kilcoo, the champions that they are, dusted themselves off and responded with a Paul Devlin free and a booming James McClean score.

Martin Devlin levelled the game from long range but O’Hare, after a fine run from replacement Shay McArdle, found the back of the net. O’Hare’s finish was sublime, a low shot curling right into the bottom left hand corner.

The pressure intensified in the closing minutes and it was point for point. Ryan Johnston came off the bench to score with his first touch and later saw red. But with Kilcoo chasing, Liam Kerr and Ronan McGrath dethroned the champions with scores on the break. 

Kilcoo: Niall Kane; Niall Branagan, James John McLoughlin, Patrick Devlin; Eugene Branagan, Aidan Branagan, Daryl Branagan; Malachy Morgan, James McClean 0-01; Jerome Johnston (1-00), Paul Devlin (0-05, 4f) Miceal Rooney (0-01); Conor Laverty, Ceilum Doherty (1-00), Martin Devlin (0-01).

Subs used: Ryan Johnston (0-01) for C Laverty (39) Ryan McEvoy for M Morgan (39), Felim McGreevy for P Devlin (44), C Laverty for M Rooney (59), Gerard McEvoy for P Devlin (62). 

Burren: Cathal Murdock (0-04f); Steven Fegan, Kevin McKernan, Conor Cox; Ardan McAvoy, Conaill McGovern, David McEntee; Declan Rooney, Ryan Treanor; Cathal Foy (0-01), Padraig Poland, Ronan McGrath (0-01); Liam Kerr (0-01), Eamonn Toner, Donal O’Hare (2-05,3f 1-0pen).

Subs used: Shay McArdle for D McEntee (HT), Conor Toner for R Treanor (42), Malachy McEvoy for C Cox (44) Sean Murdock for P Poland (53), D McEntee for E Toner BC (65). 

Referee: Con Reynolds (Downpatrick)