Kilcoo: Down stars clinch maiden all-Ireland title in last-gasp goal drama

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Daryl Branagan, Kilcoo, with Cillian O'Shea of Kilmacud

Q Radio Sport

Kilcoo sealed the All-Ireland title under the most dramatic of circumstances at Croke Park, defeating Kilmacud Crokes 2-8 to 0-13 after extra-time.

The Down champions looked dead and buried for long periods throughout the contest, trailing 0-9 to 0-2 in the second half. But they dug deep to force a draw.

Two years on from extra-time heartache in an All-Ireland final defeat to Kilcoo, the Down club showed their progress, having already edged Glen and St Finbarr's over the additional distance in this campaign.

The Dublin side edged ahead once more and led by two points with just a minute left. But a late goal from Jerome Johnston sealed the victory and broke Kilmacud hearts.

The first half followed a distinctive pattern right from the throw-in. Kilcoo were wasteful when chances presented themselves.

Up the other end, Crokes waited patiently for opportunities, and were clinical when an opening appeared in the Down club's packed defence. Shane Horan and Dara Mullen led the charge as they picked off the Ulster champions, point by point.

Try as they might, Kilcoo were unable to find a response. They registered seven first-half wides, while Conor Laverty had the goal at his mercy, only to be denied by goalkeeper Conor Ferris.

The Mourne men could have no complaints at half-time, as the Dublin giants deservedly led 0-8 to 0-2.

Kilcoo needed to land a blow at the start of the second half, but they found themselves on the ropes immediately from throw-in.

Crokes almost found the net in the 33rd minute. Craig Dias was waiting to palm the ball into the empty goal, but was denied by a dramatic interjection from Miceal Rooney. Nonetheless, the former Dublin midfielder kept the show on the road with his second point moments later, and at 0-9 to 0-3, there seemed to be no way back for Kilcoo.

But having missed out at the same stage two years ago, Micky Moran's charges were not going to go down without a fight.

A pair of Paul Devlin frees chipped into the lead, before they found the net in the most unlikely circumstances. Goalkeeper Niall Kane came out to take a 45. His effort fell short, but the swerve on the ball saw it evade the forest of fists around the square, and it flew past Ferris into the net.

Conor Laverty pointed moments later, and remarkably, it was 0-9 to 1-5 heading into the final 10 minutes.

Cian O'Connor did push the gap out to two, but two Devlin scores - one from a free and one from play - levelled it, and Sean Hurson blew the full-time whistle, with the teams level, 1-7 to 0-10.

The contest grew cagier in extra-time, with both sides reluctant to make a mistake. They scored a point apiece in the first half, before Callum Pearson worked a score shortly after the restart.

Kilcoo lacked composure in possession, and a Cian O'Connor free put two between the sides with four minutes remaining.

From there, Crokes looked to play keep-ball and frustrate their opponents. The game moved into two minutes of injury-time, and it looked like Kilcoo had finally run aground.

But Ryan Johnston collected a cross-field ball on the edge of the Crokes square. His shot was blocked on the line, but Jerome Johnston was on hand to follow up and deliver a famous victory.

Kilcoo scorers: Jerome Johnston 1-1, Paul Devlin 0-4 (0-3f), Niall Kane 1-0 (45), Conor Laverty 0-2, Anthony Morgan 0-1.

Kilmacud Crokes scorers: Cian O'Connor 0-3 (0-2f), Shane Horan 0-2, Craig Dias 0-2, Dara Mullin 0-2 (0-1m), Shane Cunningham 0-1 (0-1m), Andrew McGowan 0-1, Tom Fox 0-1 (0-1f), Callum Pearson 0-1.

Kilcoo: Niall Kane; Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan; Miceal Rooney, Daryl Branagan, Eugene Branagan; Dylan Ward, Aaron Morgan; Shealin Johnston, Jerome Johnston, Ceilum Doherty; Paul Devlin, Ryan Johnston, Conor Laverty.

Subs: Anthony Morgan for Ryan Johnston 35, Aidan Branagan for Aaron Morgan 47-f/t, blood, Ryan Johnston for Shealin Johnston 58, Shealin Johnston for Rooney h/t e/t, Justin Clarke for Doherty 77, Sean Og McCusker for Jerome Johnston 81.

Kilmacud Crokes: Conor Ferris; Michael Mullin, Dan O'Brien, Ross McGowan; Andrew McGowan, Rory O'Carroll, Cillian O'Shea; Ben Shovlin, Craig Dias; Shane Horan, Aidan Jones, Dara Mullin; Hugh Kenny, Shane Cunningham, Tom Fox.

Subs: Cian O'Connor for Fox 42, Conor Casey for Horan 54, Anthony Quinn for Jones 54, Callum Pearson for Kenny 54, Conor Kinsella for Dias 61. Theo Clancy for Michael Mullin e/t, Jones for Ross McGowan 66, Mark O'Leary for Cunningham 70, Horan for Dara Mullin h/t e/t.

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

Attendance: 17,117

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