Kilcoo may have their sights on what would be a seventh successive Down senior football championship title but they have suddenly been confronted by a rather more formidable barrier than had been anticipated in their quest.
While Kilcoo themselves were stretched to the limit by a gallant Cumann Naomh Peader, Warrenpoint before winning an absorbing semi-final by 1-13 to 2-6, St Mary's Burren rapped out a sharp warning that they are strongly focussed on terminating the current champions' reign by the clinical manner in which they brushed aside Mayobridge in the other 'semi'.
Burren's emphatic 5-12 to 2-11 win was highlighted by two each goals from Eamon Toner and Liam Kerr with old hand Declan Rooney contributing the other major while Donal O'Hare pocketed six points.
Kilcoo, for their part, led Warrenpoint by 0-8 to 1-3 at half-time with Paul Devlin and goalkeeper Niall Kane leading the scoring. And it was the latter who underlined his immense value to the side by bringing his points tally to five and, more importantly, playing a key part in closing out the game.
Ballycran were crowned Down hurling champions following their 2-13 to 1-14 win over Portaferry in yesterday's decider at Ballygalget.
It seemed as if the trophy was destined for Portaferry when they led by 1-9 to 1-2 at the break thanks mainly to Ronan Blair's scoring expertise but a resolute second-half performance saw Ballycran turn the tide.
It was Conor Woods who emerged as the real hero when his late goal and point proved crucial in taking Ballycran to the title.