Kilcoo's Daryl Branagan celebrates.
Kilcoo's Daryl Branagan celebrates.

AIB Ulster Club SFC: Classy Kilcoo triumph

AIB Ulster Club SFC Final

Kilcoo (Down) 3-10 Derrygonnelly Harps (Fermanagh) 0-3

By Declan Bogue at the Athletic Grounds

Kilcoo defended their Ulster title, last played for in the winter of 2019 when they were in control from start to finish against Derrygonnelly Harps. A 16 point margin at the end wasn’t even mildly flattering.

The Fermanagh champions decided to string a load of big bodies across their own 45 metre line and allow Kilcoo to play about with the ball at midfield.

They were cute enough to not waste any ball and went 10 minutes punctuated by the water break without a score. But such a method requires huge concentration and a lazy dunt into Miceal Rooney’s back gave Paul Devlin a tap over free.

From the resultant kickout, Aaron Branagan hoovered up the break ball. It was worked through the hands after a dash by Ceilum Doherty, with Conor Laverty executing a clever reverse pass to set up Daryl Branagan straight in front of goal. He even had time to dummy two defenders before picking his spot in the net beyond goalkeeper Johnny McGurn.

It left the score 1-4 to 0-2, Paul Devlin piling on another before the break, with Ryan Jones’ two from play Derrygonnelly’s only response.

Derrygonnelly got nothing from three successive speculative balls into the Kilcoo square with goalkeeper Niall Kane covering himself in glory in the third quarter. Indeed, the only score in that period came from Kilcoo’s Paul Devlin from play.

A second goal came on 54 minutes, a high ball in and Conor Laverty put Aaron Jones in just enough trouble to get a loose ball for Ceilum Doherty to slot home. Another followed two minutes from time when a big break yielded a Shealin Johnston goal to really underline the rout.

Scorers for Kilcoo: P Devlin (0-5, 3f), D Branagan, M Rooney, S Johnston (1-0 each), M Rooney (0-2), R McEvoy (0-2f), N Kane (0-1f).

Scorers for Derrygonnelly: R Jones (0-2), C Jones (0-1f).

KILCOO: N Kane; N Branagan, R McEvoy, A Branagan; M Rooney, D Branagan, E Branagan; D Ward, Aaron Morgan; C Doherty, J Johnston, S Johnston; C Laverty, R Johnston, P Devlin

Subs: Anthony Morgan for R Johnston (52m), Aidan Branagan for Ward, F McGreevy for Laverty (57m), P Greenan for Aaron Morgan (59m), S Óg McCusker for S Johnston (61m).

DERRYGONNELLY: J McGurn; A Jones, T Daly, M Jones ; O Smyth, D Cassidy, Lee Jones; Stephen McGullion, R Jones; E McHugh, G Jones, Leigh Jones; Shane McGullion, C Jones, G McKenna

Subs: C Burns for Smyth (41m), G McGovern for Leigh Jones (47m), Rian McGovern for Lee Jones (55m), Ronan McGovern for G McKenna (58m), P Ward for Garvan Jones (59m).

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)