Kilcoo run out of steam as Ballinderry’s early salvo paves the way for victory

Unanswered 1-5 in first half the difference as both sides finish with 13 men

Kilcoo’s James Conway wins the ball ahead of  Ballinderry’s Paul Greenan. Photograph: Russell Pritchard/Inpho/Presseye

Kilcoo’s James Conway wins the ball ahead of Ballinderry’s Paul Greenan. Photograph: Russell Pritchard/Inpho/Presseye


Ballinderry 1-10 Kilcoo 0-9: Ballinderry, the 2002 All-Ireland club champions, reached the Ulster final for the first time in five years after a deserved four-point victory over Down champions Kilcoo.

Both sides finished in the Athletic Grounds with 13 men, although both of Kilcoo’s dismissals came in injury-time when the game was over as a contest.

Ballinderry confirmed afterwards they will be appealing the straight red card dismissal of former Derry defender Kevin McGuckin, ahead of the final against Glenswilly.

McGuckin appeared to be harshly sent-off by referee Martin Higgins for striking Kilcoo’s Ryan Johnston after 22 minutes of yesterday’s semi-final.

Ballinderry raced into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead after 18 minutes with Collie Devlin and Conleith Gilligan punching serious holes in the Kilcoo defence.

Darragh O’Hanlon scored a free for Kilcoo in the third minute but the Derry champions hit an unanswered 1-5, with two superb points from difficult angles by Ryan Bell.

Michael McIver was put clean through by Daniel McKinless and rounded the ’keeper to tap the ball into an empty net in the 14th minute.

Kilcoo, perhaps tired after two titanic extra-time battles with Crossmaglen in the last two weeks, were chasing shadows. The Derry men were still five points ahead when McGuckin was sent-off.

“We came out the right side of it today, but those decisions were very rash,” he said. “Kevin never touched him [Johnston] and they [Ulster Council] have to take a hard look at it. If he struck then fair enough, but I know he didn’t.”

Kilcoo trailed by 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time.

When Ryan Scott received a second yellow card eleven minutes into the second-half, Ballinderry were down to 13 men and struggling to get out of their own half.

Kilcoo sensed an opportunity to get back into the game.

Subs Jerome Johnston and Sean Devlin scored points, as did Seán O’Hanlon, while Darragh O’Hanlon and Paul Devlin converted frees as they closed the gap to 1-9 to 0-9 with seven minutes remaining.

They lost their discipline with time almost up, with the sending-offs of Ryan Johnston and Paul Greenan.

Michael McIver ended a 17-minute scoring drought for Ballinderry with the insurance point right at the death.

Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry refused to blame fatigue as a factor for his team’s defeat.

“The best team won on the day, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“I thought Ballinderry were the better side even before the men were sent-off.

“They got off to a blistering start and we were caught flat.

“Maybe two titanic tussles [against Crossmaglen] with extra-time does take its toll, but you won’t hear us making excuses.”

BALLINDERRY: M Conlan; R Scott, C Nevin, M McIver (1-2); R Wilson, G McKinless, D Lawn; K McGuckin, J Conway; D McKinless, KM McGuckin, D McGuckin (0-1); C Devlin (0-3, 0-3 frees), R Bell (0-2), C Gilligan (0-2). Subs: D Conway for KM McGuckin (37 mins), E Muldoon for Gilligan (53 mins), A Devlin for D McKinless , F Bell for D McGuckin (both 57 mins), P Crozier for Wilson (60 mins).
KILCOO: S Kane; N Branagan, N McEvoy, D Branagan; D O’Hanlon (0-3, 0-3 frees), S O’Hanlon (0-1), Gerard McEvoy; P Greenan, A Branagan; P Devlin (0-2, 0-1free), N Morgan, R Johnston; J McClean, C Laverty (0-1), Gary McEvoy. Subs: J Johnston (0-1) for Morgan (half-time), S Devlin (0-1) for McClean (40 mins).
Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).