Kilcoo 1-12 Burren 0-13
Kilcoo captured their 10th Frank O'Hare Cup in 11 years after overcoming rivals Burren in Sunday’s Down senior club championship final.
Jerome Johnston’s early goal sent a warning that the Magpies meant business against a St Mary’s side who were without their injured talisman Liam Kerr and they missed his spark and ingenuity.
Instead, it was Kilcoo who displayed much of the flair and fluency, which had been absent earlier in the campaign, with Man of the Match Ryan Johnston scoring four fabulous points from play and younger brother Shealan tagging on another two before going off injured.
It is a third county title in a row under the management of Mickey Moran and his assistant Conleith Gilligan and the result rarely looked in doubt.
Ryan Johnston was in ruthless form and Burren couldn’t handle his direct and speedy runs.
Kilcoo led 1-07 to 0-05 at the break and Jerome Johnston’s fourth minute goal gave them the cushion they needed for the expectant comeback from Burren.
Jim McCorry’s Burren did return from the break with much more vigour and purpose with players such as David McEntee and Gerard McGovern carrying the fight. Kevin McKernan’s point could have easily ended up in the net.
Substitute Shay McArdle came on in the final ten minutes and he shook things up with three marvellous points from play and with Donal O’Hare converting seven frees, Burren had closed the gap to two points as the game entered additional time.
Paul Devlin’s frees kept Kilcoo’s noses in front and Anthony Morgan pointed after returning from his sin-bin unmarked.
So, the Magpies used all their craft and talent to eat up as much time as possible and there was no doubt they were the better team, with joint captains Conor Laverty and Aidan Branagan lifting the O’Hare Cup again.
They’ll play the Cavan champions on Sunday, December 5, as they begin their defence of the Ulster title, which they last won in 2019.
Kilcoo: Niall Kane, Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, (0-01, 1f)Daryl Branagan, Miceal Rooney (0-01) Anthony Morgan (0-01), Aaron Branagan, Dylan Ward, Aaron Morgan, Celium Doherty, Ryan Johnston, (0-04) Paul Devlin (0-03, 3f), Conor Laverty, Jerome Johnston (1-00), Shealan Johnston (0-02).
Subs: Eugene Branagan for D Branagan (27), Aidan Branagan for S Johnson (HT), Felim McGreevy for Laverty (64).
Burren: Cillian Burns, Paddy McCarthy, Steven Fegan, Ryan Magill, Conaill McGovern, Ardan McEvoy, Peter Fegan, Mark McKay, Kevin McKernan (0-01), Ronan McGrath (0-02), Odhran Murdock, Donal O’Hare (0-07, 7f), Danny Magill (0-01 45’), David McEntee, Gerard M
Subs: Conor Toner for A McEvoy (HT), Ryan Treanor for C McGovern (40), Shay McArdle (0-03) for McKay (49), Paudie Poland for McGrath (53).
Referee: Brendan Rice (Warrenpoint).