Kilcoo stave off late rally to close in on Down title
Kilcoo 0-15 Mayobridge 2-7: Kilcoo remain on course for their third Down senior football championship title in five years following a hard-earned victory over Mayobridge in last night's semi-final at Pairc Esler, Newry.
Jim McCorry's side will now meet Burren in the decider.
Having met in last year's county final, there was never a threat that either side could have sprung a significant tactical surprise last night.
Kilcoo, fast and incisive in the early stages, moved the ball quickly, intent on supplying an eager full-forward line, but while Darragh O'Hanlon and Jerome Johnston looked particularly sharp, it was Mayobridge who struck a blow just when it looked as if the champions might take control.
Kevin O'Rourke tucked away a penalty shortly before half-time to breathe fresh life into the 'Bridge just when they were tending to concede rather too much ground to their opponents.
O'Rourke also pocketed a brace of points which were complemented by additional scores from Ryan Brady and substitute Conor Garvey although Benny Coulter, normally a rich source of scores, was well shackled.
O'Hanlon and Johnston each posted three points before the break and playmaker Paul Devlin chipped in with two fine scores while Daryl Brannigan contributed one as the title-holders eased to a 0-9 to 1-4 interval lead.
The sides exchanged points immediately on the restart but Kilcoo showed greater cohesion and with Johnston, O'Hagan and Devlin very much to the fore when it came to finishing , they looked set to ease to a comfortable victory.
Coulter's famed predatory instincts were to serve Mayobridge well when he swept over a point and then plundered an out of the blue goal that set up a tense finish.
Indeed, Brady was unfortunate not to land a third Mayobridge goal with virtually the last play of an absorbing contest.
Kilcoo scorers: J Johnston, P Devlin, D O'Hanlon (0-4 each), D Brannigan (0-2), C Lavery (0-1).
Mayobridge scorers: K O'Rourke (1-3, 0-2 frees)), B Coulter (1-1), C Garvey (0-2), R Brady (0-1).