Kilcoo survive sending off to snatch a late triumph
Down champions Kilcoo reached their first Ulster senior football final yesterday with an unexpected victory over former All-Ireland club champions St Gall’s.Kilcoo were three points down with 10 minutes remaining when their midfielder Niall McEvoy was sent-off for a straight red card offence. The Antrim champions and 2010 All-Ireland winners were poor all day and left gaps everywhere and were outscored by 1-4 to 0-2 after McEvoy’s dismissal.
Substitute Seán Devlin grabbed the all-important goal two minutes after the red card to ignite the fightback and the sides traded points in a dramatic closing few minutes.
Twice St Gall’s grabbed equalisers with first Karl Stewart, their best player on the day, and then Seán Kelly kicking inspirational scores.
Both sides went searching for the winner but extra-time looked a certainty. Kilcoo were easily the more dominant team at this stage with Paul Devlin and Daragh O’Hanlon impressive.
Their patient build-up play was rewarded in the third minute of stoppage time when wing-back Gerard McEvoy ghosted in behind the St Gall’s defence and fisted the ball over the bar.
St Gall’s went hunting for the equaliser for a third time but Kieran McGourty’s shot dropped wide and Kilcoo broke again with Paul Devlin tapping over the insurance free.
The late drama more than made up for how poor the game was in the first-half.
St Gall’s went 27 minutes without a score in that first-half and there was no score at all for 22 long minutes.
A Paul Devlin free had Kilcoo two points to one ahead in the seventh minute – and that’s the way it stayed until Karl Stewart (two), Kevin Niblock and Conor Laverty made it 0-4 to 0-3 to St Gall’s at the break.
St Gall’s kicked seven wides in the opening half and CJ McGourty missed a simple free in each half. He was unhappy when taken off in the 56th minute but his form was symptomatic of the malaise that affected the side all afternoon.
KILCOO:S Kane; N Branagan, N McEvoy, D Branagan; S O’Hanlon, A Branagan, Gerard McEvoy (0-1); P Greenan, D Kane; J Johnston, P Devlin (0-3, two frees), D O’Hanlon (0-3, one free); C Laverty (0-1), A Devlin, Gary McEvoy. Subs: R Johnston (0-1) for Devlin (37mins), S Devlin (1-0) for Gary McEvoy (49mins), A McEvoy for Kane (59mins), A Devlin for Johnston (60mins). ST GALL’S:C Kerr; P Veronica, A McClean, M Kelly; A Healey, S Kelly (0-1), T O’Neill; S Burke, A Gallagher; N O’Neill, K Niblock (0-3), Kevin McGourty; C McGourty (0-1, free), M Pollock (0-1), K Stewart (0-4). Subs: Kieran McGourty for Burke (46mins), D O’Hare for C McGourty (56mins), C Brady for Veronica (59 mins). Referee:Martin Sludden (Tyrone).