Ulster club SFC: Kilcoo grind it out against Derrygonnelly
Down champions edge a tense affair to set up a final date with Donegal’s Naomh Conaill
Aaron Branagan celebrates scoring Kilcoo’s goal against Derrygonnelly. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Kilcoo (Down) 1-8 Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) 0-9
Kilcoo deployed their vast experience to telling effect at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh on Sunday where they clinically closed out a tense, rugged Ulster club championship semi-final to earn the right to face Naomh Conaill in the decider.
The Down champions were more enterprising, protected their possession better and a revealed solid defence that frustrated Derrygonnelly time and again.
In what was a turgid, relatively flat first-half Kilcoo looked sharp and effective in building up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead by the half-way stage, with Derrygonnelly registering points in the first and third minutes without managing to land another score before the break.
In contrast, Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan, Paul Devlin and Jerome Johnston fired over the Kilcoo scores but within seven minutes of the start of the second-half the sides were deadlocked at 0-5 each after Garvan Jones (2) and Declan Cassidy had hauled Derrygonnelly back into the game.
But almost immediately Kilcoo struck a decisive blow when Aaron Branagan fired in the only goal of the game. Derrygonnelly responded with points from Garvan Jones, Conall Jones and Jack Love but scores from Eugene Branagan and Ryan Johnston helped to take Kilcoo over the line.
Derrygonnelly’s Leigh Jones and Kilcoo’s Jerome Johnston were red carded in the closing minutes.
Derrygonnelly: J Kelly: J Love 0-1, T Daly, M Jones; E McHugh, Shane McGullion, G McGinley 0-1; R Jones, C Jones 0-1 (one free); L Jones, Stephen McGullion 0-1, D Cassidy 0-1; G Jones 0-3 (two frees), K Cassidy 0-1, G McGovern. Subs: G McKenna for McGovern (45 min), R McHugh for Cassidy (47), A McKenna for E McHugh (50).
Kilcoo: M McCourt; N Branagan, A Branagan, N McEvoy; A Morgan, A Branagan 1-1, D Branagan; A Morgan, D Ward; E Branagan 0-1, P Devlin 0-2 (two frees), R Johnston 0-1; R McEvoy 0-2 (two frees), J Johnston 0-1, C Laverty. Subs: J Clarke for Aaron Morgan (47 min), J McLean for Anthony Morgan (54), S Johnston for N McEvoy (57).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).