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Kilcoo Claim Paul Mc Girr Title

Monday 27.11.2017
Team Talk Mag


Kilcoo 3-08 v Crossmaglen Rangers 0-9

The halcyon days of Kilcoo GAC reached a new level on Sunday afternoon when their U16 team managed by Conor Laverty, Barney McEvoy, Anthony Devlin and Paddy Gribben won the club’s first ever Ulster title annexing the coveted Paul Mc Girr U16 Club Champions trophy with an impressive display of skill, passion and controlled aggression to overcome a more physically dominant Crossmaglen in front of a huge crowd in Gardrum Park, Dromore.  Once again it was their talisman and captain Shealan Johnston, younger brother of Down seniors Ryan and Jerome who led from the front with a dazzling display of mesmerising ball carrying and exquisite passing but overall Kilcoo’s teamwork from one to fifteen was too much for a gallant Crossmaglen side.

Johnston got the first score of the game with a converted free but it was the Armagh men who were on top in the early stages and they took the lead for the only time in the game with points from James Teelan and a great effort from Liam Og Finnegan who was their outstanding performer on the day. The game however turned after this and it was Johnston who was the catalyst with an outrageous individual goal. He picked the ball up on the half way line close to the sideline before setting off on a blistering solo run. He left four defenders trailing in his wake and when the chance presented itself he slid the ball into the corner of Stephen Morgan’s net. It was a goal of stunning quality that had the huge travelling Kilcoo support in raptures.  A Shane Morgan point reduced the deficit but Cross received another hammer blow when Sean Og McCusker cut in along the end-line before laying the ball off to tournament top scorer Justin Clarke who rattled the back of the net once again.

The Armagh champions were playing a very direct style of football but the high balls into the imposing Shane Morgan were not paying dividends as Anthony Morgan did a great job of dealing with the aerial bombardment.  Two points from Eoghan Kerley and corner back Ruairi Kieran sandwiched another Johnston free before Clarke struck once again for his seventh goal in three games finishing in convincing style when most players would have settled for a point to leave the magpies with a commanding 3-03 to 0-05 half time lead.


The Cross management of Tim Gregory and Gene O’Callaghan would have been hoping for a strong start to the second half to revive their hopes of annexing the title. Kilcoo though had other ideas and it was full forward McCusker to the fore with two early second half points. The fleet footed number 14 was proving a real handful for the Cross full back line and he along with their tigerish half back Tiernan Fettis pushed Johnston to the wire for the man of the match award.

Cross did step up their performance in the second half. Eoghan McMahon switched onto Clarke in an attempt to curb his influence and the industrious Finnegan twins battled hard for possession in the middle sector.  Liam Og Finnegan got his second point of the game before McCusker and Johnston put Kilcoo further ahead. However it was the way in which the Kilcoo rearguard controlled proceedings in the second thirty minutes which was most impressive, continually blocking up any glimmers of space that appeared and tackling superbly to the letter of the law, exemplified by the fact that they did not concede one scorable free in the entire game.

Fettes and Mac Darragh Hynes were most prominent in breaking up attacks and with Jamie McKee’s short kick outs continually finding a Kilcoo jersey they were never in any danger of conceding the goals that Cross so badly needed to find a way back into the match.  Cross did finish strongly with points from Morgan, Dara O’Callaghan and Patsy Finnegan but Laverty’s men were not going to be denied their little piece of history as Francis McGirr (Paul’s father) presented Johnston with the prestigious Paul McGirr bronze Cuchullan trophy much to the delight of the huge Kilcoo support.


It was a historic day that will live long in the memory of the Kilcoo club, and manager Laverty was understandably delighted after the game. “This is a very special day for our club. I’m delighted for them young fellas. Their attitude has been outstanding over the past two years. We have some very special players but their work-rate is the reason why we are Ulster champions. I have no doubt many of these boys will go on to represent our senior team and to be honest that is all this is about, to keep providing good quality players with the right attitude for our senior team to allow us to stay successful. We will certainly enjoy this victory but the boys are well aware it’s a stepping stone to what they ultimately want to be.”

Our thanks to Martin Mc Glone for allowing us to use his photographs.


Teams: Crossmaglen Stephen Morgan, R Kieran (0-1), T O’Callaghan, T Cassidy, R Duffy, M Murray, O Mc Keown, P Finnegan (0-1), O Doyle, D O’Callaghan (0-1), E Kerley (0-1), E McMahon, L Og Finnegan (0-2), Shane Morgan (0-2), J Teelan (0-1) Subs: T Duffy for Cassidy, R Fitzpatrick for Kerley

Teams: Kilcoo C Sloan, C Madine, R Tumelty, C Rogers, T Fettes, A Morgan, T McEvoy (0-1), L Clarke, S Johnston (1-4, 3f), J Devlin, J Clarke (2-0), N Doyle,  J McKee, S Og McCusker (0-3), M Hynes

Ref: Eamon McHugh (Aghyaran)



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