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Kilcoo upset odds again

By John Campbell

Jim McCorry is certainly the manager with the Midas touch. A decade ago the former Armagh player masterminded two Down Senior Football Championship titles for Mayobridge and now he has gone and done just that for Kilcoo.

Having secured the club a first title since 1937 three years ago, McCorry brought all his technical ability and man-management skills into play at Pairc Esler, Newry yesterday when Kilcoo swept to another stirring triumph

And even though they were outsiders in the eyes of many, Kilcoo exhibited levels of commitment, intensity and scoring power that proved too much for their opponents.

No wonder McCorry, who has also managed his native Armagh in the past, was ecstatic at the finish.

“I am very proud of this group of players for what they have achieved for Down. They have shown great commitment and pride and I could not have asked more from them,” beamed McCorry.

Indeed, it was Kilcoo’s staying power, their ferocious tackling and selfless support play that sustained their momentum throughout what was often a fractious, ragged contest.

Kilcoo will now face Ballybay in the Ulster Club Championship now confident that they can build this stunning triumph.

Skipper Gary McEvoy believes they can keep it going. “I think the only way that we can repay Jim McCorry for what he has done for Kilcoo is for us to go on and win Ulster,” declared McEvoy to thunderous applause from a sea of fans.

But they will surely absorb lessons from this clash. Too many unforced errors, a tendency to take wrong options and a penchant for conceding needless frees could well have cost them dearly in a tense finish after they had led by a handsome seven-point margin at one stage.

Kilcoo could hardly have asked for a better start. With barely two minutes gone, Mayobridge full back Brendan Rooney was guilty of a schoolboy error when attempting a pass back to his goalkeeper Shealon Strain and Conor Laverty found himself scoring into an empty net.

And when Paul Devlin confidently guided over three points from frees within the next 15 minutes, McCorry’s side were showing a sharp eye for battle.

But Mayobridge dusted themselves down and came back. A Conleth O’Hare point in the 18th minute triggered a brief spell of dominance that saw substitute Kevin O’Rourke score with his first touch in the 20th minute and Magee rifle over his second point.

But Kilcoo regained their poise and the elusive Laverty created the opening for Devlin to fire over a superb point in the 25th minute and Laverty again became the provider for full back Niall McEvoy to thunder over a magnificent 26th minute point that was to cement Kilcoo’s 1-5 to 0-5 interval lead.

It was in the 40th minute that their dominance became much more pronounced when Felim McGreevy fisted in their second goal and when Jerome Johnston and Paul Devlin landed points from play, Kilcoo looked to be home and dry at 2-8 to 0-6.

But an O’Rourke goal in the 50th minute which was sandwiched between points from Magee and Noel Sexton made it nervy, but it could yet serve to cement Kilcoo’s concentration for the Ulster Club Championship.

Mayobridge: S Strain; K McClorey, B Rooney, K Lyncehaun; R Sexton (0-1), M Lively, C Garvey; S O’Hare, B Coulter; C O’Hare (0-1), K Gallagher, K Quinn (0-1); A Barry, C Magee (0-4, 0-2 frees), R Brady. Substitutes: K O’Rourke (1-1) for Gallagher (19 mins), N Sexton for Barry (30), E Woods for S O’Hare (34), S McNamee for Rooney (43), M Walsh for C O’Hare (60). Yellow cards: Barry (30), S O’Hare (32), Garvey (36), Brady (43), N Sexton (60)

Kilcoo: S Kane; N Branagan, N McEvoy (0-1), D Branagan; S O’Hanlon, A Branagan, G McEvoy; P Greenan, F McGreevy (1-1); J Johnston (0-1), P Devlin (0-5, 0-3 frees), D O’Hanlon; C Laverty (1-0), A Devlin, G McEvoy. Subs: R Johnston for A Devlin (48 mins), A McEvoy for McGreevy (54), S Devlin for Greenan (60). Yellow cards: A Branagan (30 mins), McGreevy (31), G McEvoy (39), Laverty (47).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Clonduff).

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