Kilcoo kingpins ready to pounce

Kilcoo kingpins ready to pounce

4 July 2018

KILCOO are perfectly poised to reclaim the ACFL Division 1 crown as the season heads into the summer break.

The Eoghan Rua Park side, who last lifted the title in 2015, are sitting just a point behind leaders Warrenpoint with both sides having played 13 of their 22 games.

Kilcoo are in this lofted position due to their increased strength in depth. They have had to dig deep into their players’ pool due to injury and unavailability of several key figures, but they have come up trumps and smelling like roses.

Defeats to Bryansford and Saval and draws with Rostrevor, Clonduff and Burren threatened to derail Kilcoo’s challenge, but their form has really picked up in recent weeks as they disposed of Saval and Downpatrick to move into second place in the table.

It’s at this part of the season that Kilcoo move into a different gear. The lure of the Frank O’Hare Cup and an historic seventh-in-a-row Down Senior Football Championship will have them eating raw meat in a bid to get ready for the challenges ahead.

They usually time their run to the ‘September Showdown’ with perfection and this season should be no different.

The loss of county star Darragh O’Hanlon with a back injury is a severe blow, but Kilcoo will get on with the job of winning the SFC without him, have no fears about that.

Although Warrenpoint sit proudly at the top of the table going into the two-week break, Kilcoo’s biggest threat to regaining the ACFL title will most likely come from old adversaries Burren, Clonduff and Mayobridge.   

There is also a fierce battle going on at the other end of the table where Saval, Castlewellan, league winners the last two years in a row, An Riocht and Downpatrick are all in the relegation mix.

But what has gone wrong at Castlewellan? Pre-season, they were expected to step up their bid for there league titles in a row, but they have fallen from grace and have only managed to win three games all season.

The race for the Division 2 title has been turned into a procession by Loughinisland and Longstone.

Brendan Mason’s side have won all 12 games played and lead Longstone by two points and also have a game in hand over their closest rivals.

Dan Gordon, Rory Mason, Stefan Mason, Jonny Flynn, Chris Turley and John McCarthy have been playing out of their skins for Loughinisland and they remain on course to return to the top flight in impressive style.

Clan na Banna have been cast adrift at the bottom of the table and they are seven points behind St John’s and Darragh Cross, who are in the relegation zone along with Annaclone and Tullylish.

Saul are involved in a Titanic struggle with Shamrocks at the top of Division 3. Donnan Ritchie’s side are a point behind the leaders, but defeats to the title favourites and Atticall could cost them dearly at the end of the season.

At the opposite end of the table Drumaness, Dromara, Dundrum and Drumgath have their own D Day battle to see who will into Division 4. 

As expected, Teconnaught are the runaway leaders of Division 4. They are unbeaten after 10 games and are six points clear of Aghaderg and seven ahead of Kilclief.

Managers Donal Bell and John McCarthy will accept nothing less than an unbeaten run for the rest of the season and I wouldn’t bet against them achieving that.