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Kilcoo Into Paul McGirr Final

Monday 20.11.2017
Team Talk Mag


Kilcoo are through to the Paul McGirr Final after winning an absorbing contest with Carrickmore that required extra time to decide before it finished 1-8 to 0-8 in favour of the Down lads.


The many hundreds of spectators in attendance were to witness to one of the best games of underage football that you are every likely to see. This game had absolutely everything you would you would dream of in a game of football, there was blood, sweat and no shortage of tears by the time referee Dan Mullan blow the final whistle and the end of 80 absorbing minutes of football. The Down champions ultimately made it through but it took a late injury time free from them at the end of normal time to take the game into extra time.


With both teams being laced with excellent scoring forwards, the high scoring game that was predicted did not happen, both teams appeared to be afraid of their opponents racking up the scores and both played with many men behind the ball when not in possession. This did not lessen the spectacle however, the standard of tackling, blocking and general defending was a sight to behold and a credit to both teams and their managements. Before the game started Kilcoo surprised their opponents lining play maker Shealan Johnston out at centre back and top scorer Justin Clarke at midfield with the Carrickmore management making several positional changes to counteract these switches.


Scores were at a premium in the first half, Rory Donnelly and Brian Conway for Carrickmore and Tiarnan Fettes and Macdarragh Hynes were in masterful form shutting out the key men of their opponents The exchanges were not for the faint hearted with bodies being put on the line as both teams set their stall out in an effort to gain ascendency. Carrickmore’s talisman Stephen Grogan, who had a tremendous battle with Fettes, got the first score of the game before two from Jamie McKee, one a free, put the magpie’s in front. Kilcoo though were to suffer a major blow when wing forward Tomas Fettes suffered a nasty collarbone break in a robust but fair challenge, a challenge that was one of the many that were happening across the field. A great effort with his weaker left foot from Grogan left the sides level going in at the break as the atmosphere remained tense.


The second half saw the game starting to open up a bit, as both sets of management took the shackles off the game developed into a tremendous spectacle of skill, passion and commitment. Justin Clarke put his side ahead with an early score which was equalised by a Grogan free after great work from Carmen corner back Rory Donnelly. Another pointed effort from Clarke and one from man of the match Shealan Johnston gave Kilcoo a two-point lead. Johnston was making some amazing runs form deep and his composure and skill on the ball was a joy to behold. Carrickmore though had their own heroes throughout the field, none more so than full forward Danny Fullerton who had a brilliant second half and it was a Fullerton point that reduced the deficit. With both sets of supporters raising the roof from the rafters off the new Canon Tom Breen stand with their chants, both teams responded as the temperature went up another notch.


A pointed McKee free for Kilcoo put two between the sides before Carrickmore took control of the game, midfielder Paddy McCallan starting to make a huge impact using his immense power to gain possession and punch holes in the Kilcoo defence, fending off some huge hits as he drove his team forward. A stunning effort from Fullerton and a very well converted free from Grogan brought the teams level yet again before Fullerton hit a score from over fifty yards in the dying minutes much to the delight of the Carmen support. It was a score worthy of winning any game and it looked like doing so until one more stupendous run from Johnston was brought to a halt fifty yards from goal as the game entered injury time. As Johnston stepped up to hit the free, he spotted a colleague unmarked inside, he went for the return and was fouled just as he was ready to pull the trigger. Johnston got up, dusted himself off and converted the free to bring the game into extra time, in truth any neutral present was delighted to another twenty minutes of this enthralling game.


The decisive score of the game came straight from the throw in, Clarke won possession for Kilcoo and a mesmerising move between himself, Johnston and McKee resulted in a superb finish to the bottom corner from Clarke to give Kilcoo a lead they were never to lose. McCallan responded with an inspirational score for Carmen before Johnston got the final score of the game at the end of the first period. The second period of extra time was real backs to the wall stuff for Kilcoo and only an incredibly brave goal-line block from Jack Devlin denied Fullerton what would have been a fully deserved equalising goal.


This was an incredible advert for underage football and a great tribute to Paul McGirr, the man the tournament is named after. A very relieved and emotional Kilcoo manager Conor Laverty was privileged to have played a part in it,


“That was a terrific battle, it is great to come out of it on the right end of the result in games like that. Carrickmore are a brilliant team with a very bright future ahead. We are happy to be in a final but we know we have a very tough challenge ahead of us.”


It was very hard luck on a superb Carrickmore team, with the heavy schedule of games, having won the Tyrone league title the previous Wednesday evening, taking its toll but they can feel incredibly proud of the effort they put in.


Carrickmore – T McGarrity, J Slane, S Sweeney, R Donnelly, M McCallan, B Conway, N Canavan, P McCallan (0-1), C Cuddy, O Munroe, L McGarrity, C Munroe, J Donaghy, D Fullerton (0-3), S Grogan (0-4). Subs – M Kerr for C Munroe, T McNally for Donaghy (BC)


Kilcoo – C Sloan, Tiarnan Fettes, M Hynes, C Rogers, S Og McCusker, S Johnston (0-3), A Morgan, L Clarke, J Clarke (1-1), Tomas Fettes, N Doyle, C Madine, R Tumelty, J McKee (0-4), J Devlin. Subs – T McEvoy for Tomas Fettes, J Morgan for McKee


Referee – Dan Mullan (Glenullin)


picture courtesy of Martin McGlone



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