Termon clinical to reach St Paul's decider
Termon 2-4 Kilcoo 1-6
Kilcoo's hopes of gaining another slice of minor glory to complement their successes to date at senior level were cruelly dashed by a clinically efficient Termon side in yesterday's Ulster Minor Club Champions' Tournament semi-final at the St Paul's club in Belfast.
The Down champions, who had been hoping to follow in the footsteps of their senior club colleagues by taking delivery of the provincial trophy, were denied their passport into the final against Lavey after Termon controlled the first half.
The Donegal side, sharper and more cohesive, particularly up front, lost no time in getting into their stride against a Kilcoo side that badly missed the services of the talented Justin Clarke - who was suspended - whose helping of senior experience would certainly have stood the side in good stead yesterday.
Kilcoo manager Conor Laverty, who will be in action against Ballyboden St Enda's in the All-Ireland Club Senior semi-final next Saturday, had been hoping that his minor string might build on their recent progress in the tournament, but they were rocked back on their heels when Bobby McGettigan flashed home an early Termon goal.
It was a score that temporarily unsettled Kilcoo, who were forced onto the back foot and restricted to only occasional attacking surges.
If McGettigan's goal impacted on Kilcoo's morale, then a second from Conor Black before half-time left them battling against the odds for the greater part of the remainder of the game.
At half-time Termon led by 2-2 to 0-2, with Shealan Johnston, who started for Kilcoo against Naomh Conaill in the recent Ulster Club Senior final, landing the brace of points that offered a flicker of hope for the Mourne County outfit.
But there was to be no reprieve for Kilcoo in the third quarter, with Aaron Reid joining McGettigan and Black in maintaining the pressure on Laverty's side.
However, the breakthrough that they desperately sought came with just 12 minutes left to play when James Morgan scored a goal that triggered a revival with the score standing at 2-4 to 1-3.
Kilcoo gained fresh impetus and began to look more composed as they broke forward with much greater intent.
Sean Og McCusker landed two points as Kilcoo pinned Termon back inside their own half for a spell and slowly but surely reduced the scoreboard deficit.
Termon were restricted to just two points in the second half from Black and Stephen Reid, whereas Kilcoo complemented their goal with four points, with Johnston grabbing three of them.
And the Down side can consider themselves extremely unfortunate not to have brought the match into extra-time when they missed two chances to land what would have proved the equalising point from play in the closing moments of what was a hard-fought contest on a heavy surface.
Termon manager Trevor Alcorn said: "We have always had belief in ourselves but, at the same time, you are always aware that you can be tripped up. The fact that we have beaten a side of Kilcoo's pedigree gives us great heart going forward but we are now going in against a Lavey side that has already shown just how capable they are.
"They have plenty of familiar surnames in there and that tells us that they will be very difficult opponents. This tournament puts the spotlight on the best minor talent in the province and we have been very impressed."
Tournament spokesman Conor McCartan believes the final will prove a fitting climax.
"The standard has been very high, even allowing for the conditions on certain occasions, and I know for sure that the meeting of Termon and Lavey will have big appeal," said McCartan.
"They are teams from neighbouring counties and both clubs are highly respected at senior level. We have been very pleased with the overall fare to date and, while you would have to feel for Kilcoo and the manner in which they lost this semi-final, you just have to hand it to Termon.
"They have put together some fine performances and will feel they can come up with another in the decider on New Year's Day.
"You would have to say the same about Lavey, of course, so it's all systems go for the final."
Termon scorers: C Black 1-1, B McGettigan 1-0, Aaron Reid 0-2, S Reid, 0-1.
Kilcoo scorers: J Morgan 1-0, S Johnston 0-3, S Og McCusker 0-2 (2f), J McKee 0-1.