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Down SFC Final: Kilcoo win tight contest

Sunday 13th October 2019

Down Senior Football Championship Final
By Dan Bannon at Pairc Esler
After a brief one year hiatus from the winning enclosure, Kilcoo are Down Senior Champions once again. The Magpies remarkably picked up their seventh title in eight years thanks to a Dylan Ward goal on the 51st minute to see off a valiant St. Peter’s Warrenpoint.
The game hinged on the vision of Conor Laverty, the tricky former county player unlocked the Cumann Pheadair Naofa’s defence with a sublime foot pass for Ward to run on to and fire to the net.
In the very next play, Warrenpoint in search of their first title in 66 years, eked out the perfect response but their star forward on the day Ross McGarry spurned the glorious goal chance and their long wait will continue.
Despite their first Senior final appearance since 1978, Warrenpoint showed no signs of nerves and took an early lead through their trusty county player Ryan Mallon. Such was their bright start for the outsiders, Mallon had an excellent goal chance on the fourth minute well saved by Martin McCourt in the Kilcoo goal.
The spectacle then settled into an arm wrestle, the sides were level on five occasions with Kilcoo showing all their experience to hang in the game when St. Peter’s were playing the more free flowing football.
A point from wing forward Ruairi McCormack illustrated the attacking potential of the men in blue with a fantastic effort. However, playing in their eight consecutive showpiece, that well earned knowhow was invaluable for Kilcoo down the stretch.
Paul Devlin landed three free’s while McCourt came out of goal to fire over a long range free while Ross McGarry was more than able from placed balls for Warrenpoint, the former Down minor notched three free’s himself in the opening half.
It took an Aidan Branagan fisted point for Kilcoo deep in additional time to register their first point from play as Mickey Moran’s men went in 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
The crucial first point of the second period came from an excellent Ward effort on the run, that was a sign of things to come and the first time there was more than the minimum between the two evenly matched sides.
Warrenpoint landed the next three scores through McGarry, but exhausted themselves in doing so as Devlin and Morgan efficiently added more placed balls to their tally.
A breadth of fresh air to the Down Championship, Warrenpoint showed exactly why when they rallied to take the lead with 10 to play from the impressive John Boyle who excelled in the sweeper from from midfield.
The contrast between the finalists nerve was a apparent as Kilcoo bided their time for the killer blow and Ward duly landed it. With the game opening up Johnston brothers combined to open up an unassailable four point lead.
To their credit and via replacement Jamie Grant, Warrenpoint would not relent and got it down to a one point game, but joint captains Laverty and man of the match Aidan Branagan would not be denied their place in seventh heaven.
Kilcoo will take on the Derry Champions in the Ulster Club Championship.  The Derry final will be held next Sunday between O'Donovan Ross and Glenn.
Scorers for Kilcoo: Dylan Ward 1-1, Paul Devlin 0-4 (3fs, 145’), Ryan McEvoy 0-3 (3f) Martin McCourt 0-1 (f), Jerome Johnston 0-1, Ryan Johnston 0-1, Aidan Branagan 0-1.
Scorers for St. Peter’s Warrenpoint: Ross McGarry 0-9 (7fs) Ryan Mallon 0-1, Ruairi McCormack 0-1, Anton Magill 0-1, Donagh McAleenan 0-1 (1f), John Boyle 0-1.
KILCOO: Martin McCourt; Darryl Branagan, Niall Branagan, Niall McEvoy; Miceal Rooney, Aidan Branagan, Aaron Branagan; Ryan McEvoy, Dylan Ward; Anthony Morgan, Paul Devlin, Ryan Johnston; Eugene Branagan, Jerome Johnston, Conor Laverty.
Subs: Sheelan Johnston for Darryl Branagan BC (37), Aaron Morgan for Eugene Branagan (52), Tiarnan Fettes for Anthony Morgan (64).
ST. PETER’S WARRENPOINT: Gary McMahon;Adam Lynch, Ryan McAleenan, Cormac McCartan; Ryan Magee, Patrick Murdock, Ryan Boyle; John Boyle, Ciaran McCartan; Aron D’Arcy, Ruairi McCormack, Ryan Mallon, Aaron Magee, Ross McGarry, Donagh McAleenan.
Subs: Anton Magill for Ryan Boyle (45), Jamie Grant for Aaron Magee (48).
REFEREE: Adrian Sharvin.