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Kilcoo forward Conor Laverty.
Kilcoo forward Conor Laverty.

Down SFC Final: Kilcoo retain title

Down Senior Football Championship Final

Kilcoo 0-16 Carryduff 0-9

By Dan Bannon at Pairc Esler

In strange times, the reliability of KIlcoo can alway be counted for. The reigning Ulster champions beat Carryduff by seven points under the Páirc Esler floodlights to pick up their 18th title.

Carryduff indeed brought the novelty in a bizarre year. The youthful club founded only in 1971 were appearing in their first ever final and the scoreline doesn’t fully reflect their endeavor.

The Magpies set their stall out right from the throw in, exerting themselves on the minnows from the off. Ryan Johnston squeezing over from the narrowest of angles, but Carryduff didn’t flinch and instead they soon went ahead.

Some fine fielding from goalkeeper Mark Hynes and midfielder Josh Connery contributed to Ronan Beatty landing two vital free’s to keep them in touch before Daniel Guinness came up the field to notch them ahead.

Captain Conor Laverty dropped into a more deeper creative role and instigated Kilcoo’s dominance from that point forward. Eugene Branagan had them level 3 a piece at the first water break before Laverty set up Jerome Johnston to give them a quick two point lead upon the resumption.

Despite their enthusiasm Carryduff missed chances to stay in real contention and against the Ulster champions you have to do so. Beatty kicked two wides and blazed a chance over the bar. Those chances would be rued come the finish.

Ryan Johnston and Paul Devlin added to their tallies with two well worked scores to make it 0-7 0-4 at half time to Mickey Moran’s experienced side.

That instilled knowledge was apparent after the break with two quick fire points from Shealan Johnston and Eugene Branagan seemed to tightened their grip on the Frank O’Hare Cup.

Beatty did keep DJ Morgan’s outfit in touch but Branagan was really enjoying himself at this stage popping up everywhere and picking off points.

The game petered out with half chances for the first time finalists that they desperately needed but couldn’t really finish and compounded by Kilcoo’s supreme counter attacking game.

Ceilium Doherty showing all that ruthlessness from the champions with wonderful finish to a blistering move. Beatty to his credit kept plugging away, he landed the last two scores of the game but it was a victory lap for Kilcoo at stage.

Emptying the bench to the applause of their socially distanced supporters, Kilcoo soaked the occasion in and Laverty toasted his sides ninth Down Championship in 12 seasons.

Scorers for Kilcoo: Paul Devlin 0-4 (2fs), Ryan Johnston 0-3, Eugene Branagan 0-3, Ryan McEvoy 0-2 (2fs) Shealan Johnston, Jerome Johnston, Ceilium Doherty and Dylan Ward 0-1 each.

Scorers for Carryduff: Ronan Beatty 0-7 (4fs) John McGeough(f) and Daniel Guinness 0-1 each

Kilcoo: Niall Kane, Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan; Ceilium Doherty, Darryl Branagan, Eugene Branagan; Aidan Branagan, Dylan Ward; Shealan Johnston, Jerome Johnston, Paul Devlin; Ryan Johnston, Conor Laverty, Niall McEvoy.

Subs: Darragh O’Hanlon for R Johnston (52), Justin Clarke for S Johnston (56), Paul Greenan for A Branagan (58), Miceal Rooney for A Branagan (60), Marty Devlin for Laverty (62)

Carryduff: Mark Hynes; Lorcan Toal, Gareth Henderson, Aidan O’Brien; Michael McGrath, Conor Cassidy, Daniel Guinness; Josh Connery, Owen McCabe; John McGeough, Joe Tunney, Rory Anderson, Ronan Beatty, Jonny Henry, Joe McFlynn.

Subs: Caolan Tierney for McGlynn (47), Peter Loughran for Tunney (47), Shea Reilly for Anderson (49), Michael Lawson for Henry (53), Ronan Lawlor for O’Brien (60).

Referee: Con Reynolds (Rostrevor).