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Kilcoo show steely nerve to make it six of the best

Kilcoo 0-13 Burren 0-11

By Declan Bogue

For the small community of Kilcoo, nestled in the bosom of the Mournes, Sunday was a day about numbers.

They equalled the record of six consecutive county titles, set by the great Burren team between 1983 to 1988, thereby moving themselves three ahead of Burren on the leaderboard of the Frank O'Hare Cup, with 16 triumphs.

It came 100 years from their first county title in 1917 and it was inspired by four points from play by the 20-year-old man of the match, Dylan Ward.

In a fortnight, Kilcoo get a rematch of last year's Ulster club final, when they face Slaughtneil in the preliminary round, and they get to do it all in Newry.

"We knew that for six years, Burren have been hurting, big time," said Kilcoo's manager, Paul McIver as he struggled to keep his small son Hugh in his arms afterwards.

"We have been hearing about all these great teams of the past in Burren.

"We just knew that if we could use that energy and let it zap away at it for the first 10 or 15 minutes that we would come through it in the end and that's the way it turned out."

Burren meant business in the opening quarter, racing into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead, and they looked blessed when Darragh O'Hanlon's penalty for Kilcoo flew over Cathal Murdock's crossbar.

But Eoghan Rua are a seasoned outfit and by half-time, with the excellent Conor Laverty coming more and more into proceedings with his clever distribution, they were just one point adrift, 0-7 to 0-6.

Within three minutes of the restart they had the lead for the first time and they kept grinding despite Burren's periodic dominance from Stevie Kane's kick outs.

Dylan Ward forced a turnover and Laverty delivered into Jerome Johnston, who had his drive tipped over by Murdock, and soon after, Ward had his fourth point from play for distance, an outside of the boot effort stretching the lead to two.

Paul Devlin was fouled for a free he put over himself and in running into position for the kick out, was flattened by a punch by Conail McGovern under the nose of referee Paul Faloon, earning an instant red card.

Burren laid siege to the Kilcoo goal but Donal O'Hare had a half-chance blocked down by Darragh O'Hanlon, and another half sight of goal from Shay McArdle was deflected by a forest of bodies.

"We should have made life more difficult for them. We were three up and believe we should have been six or seven up and didn't do it," explained Burren manager Paddy O'Rourke afterwards.

"That kept them in the game, they're very experienced and they don't do panic."

Three black cards in the last ten minutes shows how the practise for tight scenarios.

They will face a tighter one when Slaughtneil roll into the Marshes on October 15.

For Burren, it was a third county final defeat to the Magpies in five years following similar outcomes back in 2013 and 2014.

KILCOO: S Kane; N Branagan, D O'Hanlon 0-1, Pen, Aidan Branagan; D Branagan, Aaron Branagan, P Devlin 0-4f; F McGreevy, A Morgan 0-1; R Johnston, J Johnston 0-2, M Devlin; C Doherty, D Ward 0-4, C Laverty 0-1

Subs: E Branagan for R Johnston (38), J McClean for M Devlin (39), JJ McLaughlin for Aidan Branagan (51)

BURREN: C Murdock 0-2, 1x '45', 1f; J McGovern, G McGovern, S Fegan; D Rooney, C Cox, C Foy; M McKay, C Toner; R Treanor 0-1, D O'Hare 0-6 3f, S McArdle; C McGovern, K McKernan 0-1, D McEntee

Subs: S Murdock for Treanor (41), Ciaran McGovern for J McGovern (41), D McCartan for McKay (53), P Poland for McEntee (53)

Referee: Paul Faloon (Drumgath)

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