Three in row for Kilcoo after easily seeing off Down
Castlewellan 0-11 Kilcoo 3-10
Kilcoo won their third Down Senior Club Championship title in a row and fourth in five years with a convincing win against Castlewellan on Sunday.
Played at Pairc Esler the Magpies played with the intensity and hunger that they are renowned for and will now face Cavan's Kingscourt in just under three weeks' time.
As expected it was physical contest and referee Ronan Barry allowed the game to flow.
But there were also a number of notable scores including Ryan Johnston's late goal, which sealed Castlewellan's fate, and a magnificent tight-angled point from the Town's Aidan Burns.
First half goals from Jerome Johnston and man of the match Paul Greenan gave Kilcoo a 2-03 to 0-4 lead at the break.
But Castlewellan led 0-3 to 0-1 after Daniel Morgan and Aidan Burns pointed for the Town, with Ryan Johnston opening the scoring.
But Kilcoo's strategy was clear and they wanted goals, with big Greenan rushing to the edge of the square every few minutes until he finally bagged his goal.
But first Jerome Johnston rattled the Castlewellan net with 18 minutes gone, as he was alert to a quick free taken by his brother Ryan, before drilling home with conviction.
Paul Devlin should have stretched Kilcoo's lead but kicked three frees wide that he would usually tap over in his sleep.
However, Greenan eventually got his reward for his endeavours when Conor Laverty's attempted tight angled shot dropped into the edge of the square and the man of the match beat Castlewellan keeper Michael Cunningham to the ball, to punch into the net.
With their tails up Paul Devlin launched over a beauty from 40 metres and Jerome Johnston and Castlewellan's Morgan traded converted frees to bring the half to a close, but within minutes of the restart Laverty scored two points, both with his fist, while Rory Burns also scored for the Town.
Unfortunately it wasn't an indication of a lot of more scores to come as the game lost its shape due to a raft of substitutions.
Aidan Burns, Kevin Duffin, Morgan and substitute Fintan McGreevy weighed in with points for Castlewellan, but more times than not the Kilcoo defence led by captain Aidan Branagan, smothered the Castlewellan attack.
And when Ryan Johnston struck Kilcoo's third goal on 45 minutes the game was effectively over.
And it was a cracking goal as Ryan was racing forward and collected a clever pass from his brother and was going so fast he ran past the post, but not before squeezing his shot low and into the corner of the net.
Kilcoo's Aaron Morgan picked off a great point to give the Magpies a commanding 3-07 to 0-08 lead and there was no coming back for Castlewellan.
Jerome and Ryan Johnston and substitute Dylan Ward completed the scoring for Kilcoo, and while Castlewellan can reflect on a good year under manager John Short Treanor, it is Paul McIver's Kilcoo that progress into the Ulster Club Championship.
Castlewellan: M Cunningham, A Brogan, R McArdle, B Travers, D Morgan, K Duffin, C Flanagan, R Burns, C Corrigan, L McKibben, D Gilmore, D McKibben, A Burns, S Doran and C Crilly. Subs: Caolan Corrigan (for Brogan 44), L Toner (for Conall Corrigan 47), F McGreevy (for R Burns 44), S Hardy (for Flanagan 50), D McGrady (for Gilmore 52), Conal Crilly (for Dornan 56).
Kilcoo: S Kane, N Branagan, A Branagan, D Branagan, A Branagan, D O'Hanlon, A Fulcher, P Greenan (1-0), D McEvoy, A Morgan (0-1), R Johnston (1-2), P Devlin (0-2), M Devlin, C Laverty (0-2) and J Johnston (1-2, 0-1 free). Subs: C Laverty for (blood-sub) A Devlin (black card) 14, D Ward (0-1) for M Devlin 39, P McGreevy (for D McEvoy 44), Gary McEvoy (for P Devlin 48), J McClean (for Fulcher 49), Gerald McEvoy (for Morgan 28).