Ryan Johnston starred for Kilcoo.
Ryan Johnston starred for Kilcoo.

Down SFC Final: Kilcoo set the standard

Down SFC Final


By Orla Bannon at Páirc Esler

Reigning Ulster club champions Kilcoo’s dominance of the Down Senior Football Championship continued in Pairc Esler with a 10th title since 2009 after a deserved win over Burren.

Burren, who were the only team to interrupt Kilcoo’s dominance of the last decade when they beat them in 2018, came into the game in confident form after hard-fought wins over Mayobridge and Clonduff.

They needed a good start, though, to establish themselves in this final but it was Kilcoo, the 2019 Ulster champions, who put down an early marker with Jerome Johnston’s fifth minute-goal.

Kilcoo led from start to finish with Ryan Johnston putting in a superb shift with four points from play in a man-of-the-match performance.

The Magpies’ soaked up anything Burren could throw at them, broke with searing pace and were clinical enough to convert most of the chances they created.

Burren undoubtedly suffered because of the absence of injured Liam Kerr who was their star player throughout their campaign and Kilcoo, despite a few close shaves during the season, never really looked like finishing up on the losing side.

Johnston’s brilliant left-footed across the goal set the tone and they built on that platform with points from Miceal Rooney, Shealin and Ryan Johnston.

Burren relied on frees and a ‘45’ from Danny Magill and 23 minutes elapsed before they hit the first point from play from Ronan McGrath. Kilcoo led 1-7 to 0-5 at half time.

Eugene Branagan made a point for Ryan Johnston to finish and despite the loss of Anthony Morgan with a black card, they held firm with Ryan McEvoy and Paul Devlin converting frees.

The closest Burren, managed by Jim McCorry who led Kilcoo to a hat-trick of Down titles in 2012-2014, could get was to within two points.

Anthony Morgan returned to the pitch and nailed the clinching score for Kilcoo who will take on Cavan champions, either Gowna or Ramor, in the first defence of their Ulster title.

Scorers for Kilcoo: R Johnston 0-4, J Johnston 1-0, P Devlin 0-3 (3f), S Johnston 0-2, A Morgan, M Rooney 0-1 each, R McEvoy 0-1 (f)

Scorers for Burren: D O’Hare 0-7 (7f), R McGrath, S McArdle 0-2 each, D Magill 0-1 (a ‘45’).

Kilcoo: Niall Kane; Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, Daryl Branagan; Miceal Rooney, Anthony Morgan, Aaron Branagan; Dylan Ward, Aaron Morgan; Ceilum Doherty, Jerome Johnston, Paul Devlin; Conor Laverty, Ryan Johnston, Shealin Johnston.

Subs: Eugene Branagan for Daryl Branagan (28), Aidan Branagan for Shealin Johnston (HT), Justin Clarke for Eugene Branagan (57), Feilum McGreevy for Conor Laverty (60).

Burren: Cillian Burns; Paddy McCarthy, Steven Fegan, Ryan Magill; Conail McGovern, Ardan McAvoy, Peter Fegan; Mark McKay, Kevin McKernan; Ronan McGrath, Odhran Murdock, Donal O’Hare; Danny Magill, David McEntee, Gerard McGovern

Subs: Conor Toner for A McAvoy (HT), Rian Treanor for C McGovern (41), Shay McArdle for McKay (49), Peadar Poland for McGrath (54).

Referee: Brendan Rice.