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Kilcar crush Scotstown to lay down Ulster club marker

Kilcar’s Ryan McHugh steals a march on Sean Mohan of Scotstown during yesterday’s Ulster Club SFC quarter-final at St Tiernach’s Park 
Kenny Archer in Clones

AIB Ulster Club Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Scotstown (Monaghan) 1-6 Kilcar (Donegal) 1-16

THIS Kilcar team will take serious stopping, even from reigning Ulster champions Slaughtneil, suggested Scotstown manager Kieran Donnelly – and few in attendance at Clones would disagree with that assessment.

The Donegal champs appeared a different side from the one that ground out their first county final triumph for 24 years recently, and instead cut loose at times to thrash the three-in-a-row Monaghan champions by 10 points.

The victors’ talent was well-known, with their county stars all impressing – captain Paddy McBrearty top-scored with 0-8, four from play, Eoin McHugh netted a superb goal, and his cousins Ryan – with 0-5 himself – and

Mark McHugh also caught the eye.

Kilcar manager Barry Doherty acknowledged their quality, saying: “Patrick kept us in it for a lot of the first half, him and probably him alone, but then Eoin got the goal and we kicked on from there.”

However, he also pointed to his team’s mental strength and collective effort.

Scotstown’s attacking star Conor McCarthy rocked them with a fourth minute goal, but Kilcar responded calmly and convincingly, to the delight of Doherty:

“Before we might have reacted to that and thrown in the towel pretty much, but this is a team that is hungry for success and we’re trying our very best every game we play.

“That’s the first goal we’ve conceded in four or five games. We’re trying to stop teams scoring goals, we work very hard on that in training.

“I’m delighted with our full-back line, although we try to defend as a team and attack as a team. It’s just about finding a good balance, which we did at times today.

“We like to play football – if we’re let play football, we’ll play football….it’s just different styles.”

Scotstown boss Donnelly was disappointed with the performance of referee Ciaran Branagan, commenting:

“I felt Ciaran had a really poor game. He missed two bounces in a MacRory Cup final two years ago.

“Today I felt a lot of key decisions didn’t go our way, a lot of massive calls, that probably would have changed the game.

“But I don’t think that beat us, I want to be clear on that, it wasn’t the referee. But I would like the referee to be consistent and I felt he wasn’t today. They got several easy frees whereas we took the ball into contact and they were pulled at us but we didn’t get those frees – and that’s hard to take.”

What was even more difficult to deal with, he freely acknowledged, was their opponents’ ability:

“We were very wary of Kilcar’s quality… they have serious pace and play a system they’re well used to. Once they went ahead with that goal it was nearly impossible to break them down at times – and when they got on the counter-attack they were very hard to stop.

“Slaughtneil’s an amazing team…but I think this Kilcar team will take serious stopping. If any team can do it, it will be Slaughtneil, but they [Kilcar] have a good blend and seem very hungry.”

Kilcar opened the scoring through a free from their skipper but the ‘home’ side produced a brilliant response: Kieran Hughes’s catch and long kick found McCarthy, whose dummy gave him the space to fire low to the net.

It was tit for tat for the rest of the opening quarter, although the signs were ominous for Scotstown as they struggled to contain the elder McBrearty, despite switching his marker.

At times he was their only man in attack, but the speed with which Kilcar break out of their packed defence is phenomenal.

A move off the training pitch brought their superb goal – their number 14 got out in front of Damien McArdle to lay off a free kick from Ryan McHugh into the path of his cousin Eoin, whose searing pace burnt off the Scotstown rearguard before he finished emphatically past Rory Beggan in the 22nd minute.

Kilcar were flying as a team after that, with Paddy McBrearty – to bring his first half tally to 0-7 – and Ryan McHugh both scoring twice more to give them a 1-10 to 1-3 interval advantage.

Scotstown looked like they might make a match of it when they got the first two scores of the second half, but Kilcar reeled off three in a row in reply, with veteran Michael Hegarty setting up one of those and scoring another.

Scotstown ’keeper Rory Beggan converted a 43rd minute free but that proved to be his side’s last score and Kilcar comfortably cruised to victory, with Ryan McHugh recording the final three points of the day.

Kilcar next face the toughest current test in Ulster club football, in Slaughtneil, but their boss Doherty insisted: “We’ll definitely look forward to it.

“They’re a fantastic team, they know how to grind out results, so we’ll have to try to turn the tide and see if we can get the result our way.”

On this showing, they can go forward with confidence, as they did yesterday.

Scotstown: R Beggan (0-1 free); F McPhillips; W Carroll, S Mohan; D Morgan (capt), D McArdle, E Caulfield; F Caulfield, K Hughes; J Hamill, S Carey (0-1), R McKenna (0-2); P Sherlock, D Hughes, C McCarthy (1-2).

Substitutes: D McCrudden for Hamill (42); O Heaphy for McKenna (black card, 45).

Yellow cards: F Caulfield (3); F McPhillips (26); Hamill (38); Carroll (47); D Hughes (51).

Black card: McKenna (44)

Kilcar: E McGinley; B McGinley, C McShane, P Carr; R McHugh (0-5, 0-2 frees), M Hegarty (0-1), B Shovlin; C McGinley (0-1), M McHugh; A McClean, E McHugh (1-0), C Doherty; S Shovlin, P McBrearty (capt) (0-8, 0-4 frees), S McBrearty (0-1).

Substitutes: M McClean for Doherty (43); M Sweeney for A McClean (53); A Carr for S McBrearty (57); A McGinley for P McBrearty (62).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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