GAA Football

Defending champions Kilcoo see off Watty Graham's to progress to Ulster Club Championship final

Jerome Johnston on the attack under pressure from Michael Warnock in yesterday's AIB Ulster semi-final at the Athletic Grounds. Picture Seamus Loughran
Andy Watters

Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final: Kilcoo (Down) 1-11 Watty Graham's Glen (Derry) 0-11

From Andy Watters at The Athletic Grounds

ONE mistake was always likely to prove decisive in a game like yesterday's and it came in the second period of extra-time. Both sides had given absolutely nothing away in a game of massed defences, turnovers, yellow cards and frees but Glen led by a point when Paul Devlin got a boot to Conlann Bradley's short kick-out.

He looked up to see Jerome Johnston – the goal-scorer supreme – baying for the ball. He passed, Johnston blasted the ball into the net for his seventh goal of this season and Kilcoo were two points up… Game over and now they'll defend their Ulster crown against Derrygonnelly Harps on January 16.

After a short delay to cater for a huge crowd, the match quickly adopted a predictable pattern. Both sides dropped behind the ball and played for turnovers so scores were few and far between and there were just three points from play in a phoney war of a first half.

Glen had a couple of early pot-shots. Conor McDevitt shot wide and then Ciaran McFaul, whose every move was tracked by Ceilum Doherty, had a go but his shot dropped short (a reulgar feature in the game) and Kilcoo tried a break which was immediately snuffed out on the Glen 45.

The deadlock remained unbroken until the eighth minute when Ryan Johnson took possession on the left wing, motored past Emmet Bradley and split the posts. Ryan Dougan's off-the-ball tug on Jerome Johnston was spotted by referee Noel Mooney and Paul Devlin doubled Kilcoo's Tally from the free.

The Magpies' veteran then blotted his copybook by fouling Conleth McGuckian and Emmet Bradley landed a terrific free to open Glen's account but Conor Carville and Glass both missed chances and Ward combined well with Conor Laverty to make it 3-1 before Glass atoned for his earlier wide by shaking off Jerome Johnston's hit and stroking over his side's first from play.

Kilcoo, so comfortable in their gameplan, continued to look dangerous on the break and Eugene Branagan's shot took a touch off a Glen hand as it clipped the post.

Niall Kane confidently converted the 45 but Danny Tallon's free maintained the claustrophobic feel to the game and then Glen stood back and allowed the Magpies a short kick-out. Eventually they forced the turnover they had played for and pushed forward but Jack Doherty's shot landed short and Ryan McEvoy rose brilliantly to field the ball and send the Down champions on the ‘attack' again.

Their forward foray petered out with a mishit shot from Devlin and Ward was booked for a shove on McGuckian that allowed Tallon to clip over the free that left it all-square at the interval.

Glen were out first for the throw-in but Kilcoo won the throw-in and swept forward – Docherty got on the end of the move and edged his side ahead again. Devlin's free extended the lead to two points.

McGuckian hit one short but then grabbed McFaul's lay-off and punched a hole in the Kilcoo defence. Miceal Rooney brought him down and Gunning's free left a point in it again.

Glass closed down JJ and McFaul was standing at full-forward when Tiarnan Flannagan raced through to level it after 40 minutes.

Parity lasted only second as Shealin Johnston, one of the many emerging talents in Mickey Moran's side, showcased his lightning pace down the right, and split the uprights with a terrific finish.

Turnover followed turnover as the teams took turns to charge into massed defences. Kilcoo just shaded the battles but that was enough and Ryan Johnston should have scored when he found space on the left. Conlann Bradley got fingertips to his shot and then flicked the ball away with them to stop Jerome Johnston getting a tap-in goal but Ceilum Docherty's point left it 0-8 to 0-6 at the waterbreak.

Kane did brilliantly to punch away a McGuckian shot that dropped short and then Jerome Johnston kicked wide from in front of the posts and Glen's Tallon also missed the target with his team crying out for a score to lift them.

But he made amends with a free after McFaul had been fouled to leave one in it with five minutes to go and McFaul was involved again when Emmet Bradley sored through the foggy air to level it with a couple of minutes left.

The closing stages were harum-scarum. Glen attacked twice, Kilcoo once all either team needed was a ball to break their way but the defences prevailed as they had throughout and the game went to extra-time.

Midway through the first period, Ryan Johnston pull on Glass's jersey and Glass took the free himself. He struck it well and Derry cheers rang out as it sailed over the bar to give Glen the lead for the first time. Glass was back under his own posts seconds later to snuff out an opening for Jerome Johnston but Johnston's time came when a short kick-out intercepted by and he looked up to see Jerome in space and the goal specialist did what he usually does – he hammered the ball into the net and Kilcoo led by two. Miceal Rooney extended that to three with a fine finish to leave

Emmet Bradley pushed up to full-forward for the final but Kilcoo

Shealin Johnston point

Stevie O'Hara free

Tallon free 1-10 0-11 – over 5 mins left

But Laverty – back on for the closing stages – used his experience to get on the ball and win a free and Devlin left three in it as the final whistle beckoned.

There was still time for drama. The ball was chipped in and a

Kilcoo: N Kane (0-1 45); N Branagan, R McEvoy, Aaron Branagan; M Rooney (0-2), Anthony Morgan, E Branagan; D Ward, Aaron Morgan; C Docherty (0-2), J Johnston (1-0), S Johnston (0-1); C Laverty, R Johnston (0-1), P Devlin (0-2 frees)

Subs: D Branagan for Anthony Morgan (55), C Rooney for Laverty (58), Aidan Branagan for Aaron Morgan (58), J Clarke for E Branagan (71), P Greenan for Ward (73), Laverty for D Branagan (75)

Yellow cards: Devlin (16), Ward (30), D Branagan (57), R Johnston (62), Aidan Branagan (72), Clarke (75)

Watty Graham's Glen: C Bradley; M Warnock, R Dougan, C Carville (0-1); T Flanagan, C McFaul, E Doherty; C Glass (0-2, 0-1 free), E Bradley (0-2, 0-1 free); E Mulholland, J Doherty, C McDevitt; P Gunning (0-1 free), D Tallon (0-3 frees), C McGuckian

Subs: A Doherty for Gunning (45), C Convery for McDevitt (50), S O'Hara for McGuckian (65), A McGonigle for Mulholland (70)

Yellow cards: Glass (46), McFaul (52), Mulholland (62), Warnock (77), McGonigle (80)

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan)

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GAA Football