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O'Hanlon can be spot on in Kilcoo's drive for fantastic five

Main man: Darragh O’Hanlon could be Kilcoo hot-shot against Clonduff
Main man: Darragh O’Hanlon could be Kilcoo hot-shot against Clonduff
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Darragh O'Hanlon could prove the man on the spot in more ways than one when Kilcoo bid to land what would be a fifth successive Down Senior Football Championship title tomorrow.

Ross Carr's resilient Clonduff will form the opposition at Pairc Esler, Newry (4.15pm) and as well as providing a skilful link between defence and attack, the stocky O'Hanlon will also shoulder the duties of free-taker and indeed penalty specialist.

It was in the 4-7 to 2-8 win over Burren in the semi-final that O'Hanlon underlined his value to the side by landing a penalty goal in each half and tacking on three points from frees for good measure.

No wonder Kilcoo manager Paul McIver enthusiastically lauds O'Hanlon's current input into the side.

"Darragh is playing some of the best football of his career at the moment and is a vital cog in the side," insists McIver.

But Kilcoo are anything but a one-man band. The five Branagan brothers - Eugene, Darryl, Niall, Aidan and Aaron - are expected to be on duty again in the defence tomorrow while Paul Devlin, Conor Laverty and Niall McEvoy help to provide a cutting edge up front.

Clonduff, who beat Bryansford in the other semi-final, have to some extent made things difficult for themselves but nonetheless their durability, tenacity and feverish work-rate could pose big problems for the reigning champions.

Long-serving Clonduff defender Aidan Carr, while acknowledging that their itinerary to the decider has been anything but straightforward, nonetheless hints that a last big push is imminent.

"We just managed to come out on the right side in some tough games, we got the bounce of the ball on occasions. But it's great to be in this final and hopefully we can rise to the occasion," says Dublin-based Carr.

Barry O'Hagan, Paul Lively, Stephen McConville and Darren O'Hagan are other key players in a team noted for its staying power - and that's a quality they may require in abundance tomorrow when the heat is on.

Meanwhile, Ballycran hope to retain their Down hurling title when they meet Ballygalget in the final at Portaferry tomorrow (4.00pm).

Both teams are laced with experienced players and while Ballycran appear to be in the driving seat, Ballygalget's hunger to regain the crown is palpable.

Ballycran will be powered by the talented Nicholson brothers Scott and Brett while Stephen Keith, the Ennis brothers Sean and Michael, James Coyle and Conor Woods have been in outstanding form this year.

Woods forms a particularly formidable barrier at centre-half-back while Coyle in particular is a lively, free-scoring forward with a sharp turn of pace.

Ballygalget's experience is provided by Gareth Johnston, Danny Toner and Graham Clarke and joint managers Barry Coulter and Gerard McGrattan are hoping that they can help to set the tone for what will be a winning performance by their side.

There would appear to be very little between the two sides although Ballycran might just possess an extra dimension in their attack.

Belfast Telegraph


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