Kilcoo are locked and loaded in thriller

Kilcoo are locked and loaded in thriller

8 January 2020

CILL Chua’s dreams of All-Ireland glory are alive and kicking following Saturday’s heroic semi-final win over Ballyboden at a cold and wet Kingspan Breffni.

Mickey Moran’s side will now face Corofin, the Galway and Connacht champions, who beat a fancied Nemo Rangers at the weekend and who intend becoming the first club to win the title three years in a row.

Cill Chua were rated as rank outsiders against the Dublin kingpins, but they turned the tables on Anthony Rainbow’s side with a stunning display of team work and courage.

Ryan Johnston’s first half goal helped the Ulster champions to a 1-6 to 0-6 interval lead, and Daryl Branagan fired in a second goal midway through the second half. It was the persistence and intensity shown by the Down champions, particularly in the closing stages, that set them apart and secured a memorable triumph.

The shrewd Moran shuffled his pack and started midfielder Ryan McEvoy at full back in a bid to negate the influence of the talented Ryan Basquel, a tactic that worked a treat.

Cill Chua started well and went through the gears early on, retaining possession and making their opponents work for a share of the ball.

A Paul Devlin score broke the deadlock before Dublin levelled with a Ryan Basquel score in the ninth minute.

Minutes later, a swift interchange of passes saw Declan O’Mahoney carve out an opening for Conal Keaney to pick off a point.

Keaney supplied the perfect pass for Basquel to accept the invitation to stroke over his second, but Kilcoo, with the help of converted frees from McEvoy and Paul Devlin, were level by the end of the opening quarter.

Conor Laverty, who was being marked tightly by Cathal Flaherty, had to come out deep to get possession, but he was a permanent threat and Ballyboden watched him like a hawk. 

However, you just can’t pin Laverty down for long and with 21 minutes gone he flicked the ball into Ryan Johnston who drilled the ball past a helpless Darragh Gogan.  

Cill Chua, who had the elements in their backs, then went four points clear when Aaron Morgan pointed from play, but Ballyboden stuck to their task and points from the Basquel brothers left two points in it at the break, 1-5 to 0-6.

The Dubliners started the second half well and county start Michael Darragh Macauley fed Kieran Kennedy and he pointed to leave a single point in it.

Ballyboden then wasted a few good chances to go level before Paul Devlein made it a two-point game again in the 32nd minute.

Cill Chua’s tactic of hunting in packs, preventing Ballyboden from getting into their stride, forced a lot of mistakes and turnovers and their industry paid off when man of the match Daryll Branagan netted his side’s second goal after the ball rebounded of the post.

Ballyboden threw caution to the wind and started piling men forward, but they lost the talismanic Macauley in the 50th minute to a black card.

However, Colm Basquel lofted over a couple of frees, with substitute Warren Egan also hitting the target to keep their hopes alive, but defensive interventions from Aaron Branagan, Laverty and Jerome Johnston kept Kilcoo’s lead intact.

The ball became like a bar of soap in the dying stages as Ballyboden pushed and pushed, but Ryan McEvoy punished them severely when he charged forward and fired over an insurance point and ensured there was no way back for the Dublin side.

Kilcoo: Martin McCourt, Niall Branagan, Aaron Branagan, Ryan McEvoy (0-3, 2f), Daryl Branagan (1-0), Aidan Branagan, Niall McEvoy, Aaron Morgan (0-1), Dylan Ward, Ryan Johnston, Eugene Branagan, Jerome Johnston (1-0), Conor Laverty, Paul Devlin (0-3, 2f), Shealan Johnston (0-1). Subs: Miceál Rooney for Morgan, Justin Clarke for D Branagan (black card), Felim McGreevy for Ward, Anthony Morgan for Laverty (black card), Paul Greennan for McEvoy (black card).

Ballyboden St Enda’s: Darragh Gogan, Cathal Flaherty, Shane Clayton, Bob Dwan, Kieran Kennedy (0-1), Robbie McDaid, Brian Bobbett, Michael Darragh Macauley, Declan O’Mahoney, Alan Flood, Colm Basquel (0-2f), Darren O’Reilly, Conal Keaney (0-1), Ryan Basquel (0-6, 5f), Ross McGarry. Subs: Aran Waters for Bobbett, Tom Hayes for McGarry, Darragh Nelson for Waters (black card), Warren Egan (0-1) for Flood, James Holland for MacAuley (black card), Séamus Ó Maidin for O’Reilly.

Cill Chua 2-8

Ballyboden 0-11