Kilcoo (Down) 3-14 Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) 1-9
Kilcoo may have booked their place in the Ulster Club Championship final courtesy of this emphatic triumph over Enniskillen Gaels at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh, but manager Conleith Gilligan is taking nothing for granted going forward.
The reigning Down, Ulster and All-Ireland champions had found the going tough in retaining their Mourne county title particularly in the closing stages of their domestic championship and while Gilligan is pleased to see his charges vie for another provincial honour, he believes that even greater effort will be needed going forward.
“Obviously when you get to this stage of a provincial competition you expect the pressure to come on and that’s just how it is. But we will be applying ourselves diligently in training and we are still hopeful of keeping our Ulster crown,” maintains Gilligan.
His side looked to have one foot in the final when they led Enniskillen Gaels by 2-8 to 0-1 at half-time on Saturday night but the manner in which the Fermanagh champions staged a revival of sorts in the third quarter will not have been lost on the wily Gilligan.
Shealan Johnston’s 10th minute goal had posted the roadmap for the Down side’s first-half performance in which they pegged their opponents back inside their own half. They restricted Enniskillen’s scoring input in the opening half to just one point, which arrived courtesy of John Reilhill in the 24th minute.
In contrast, Johnston had tucked away his second goal and Paul Devlin, Conor Laverty and Ryan Johnston had shared in a points-scoring blitz.
It was a somewhat different story in the third quarter, though. Enniskillen discovered a fresh lease of life and with impressive substitute Eoin Beacom very much to the fore – he scored 1-3 – they triggered palpitations within the Kilcoo rearguard.
It was a Beacom goal in the 45th minute that sparked the possibility of an even more impressive recovery, but Kilcoo’s experience and craft surfaced in abundance as they seized the initiative once again.
Beacom’s goal was quickly cancelled out when Aaron Morgan drilled in Kilcoo’s third goal and normal business resumed as Kilcoo clinically closed out the game with Ceilum Doherty, Eugene Branagan and Paul Devlin providing added glow to the final score line with late points.
Kilcoo: N Kane; N Branagan, R McEvoy, A Branagan (0-1} T Fettes, D Branagan (0-2), M Rooney (0-1); Aaron Morgan (1-0), Anthony Morgan; C Doherty (0-2), R Johnston (0-1), S Johnston (2-1); C Laverty (0-1), J Johnston, P Devlin (0-04, 4fs). Subs: E Branagan (0-1) for A Branagan (ht), Aidan Brangan for Morgan (50), G McEvoy for J Johnston (58), M Hynes for S Johnston (58), S Og McCusker for Laverty (59).
Enniskillen Gaels: C Newman; J Tierney, A Nolan, J Ferguson; J Horan (0-1), J Cassidy, C Watson (0-1); B Horan, R O’Callaghan (0-2); N McDermott, R McDonald, C McShea; C Love (0-1, f) J Reihill (0-1), C Smith. Subs: P Reihill for McDermott (20), E Beacom (1-3,1f) for Smith (h-t), C Quinn for Ferguson (48), R Bogue for Watson (48), P Cassidy for McDonald (59).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).