Kilcoo out of Ulster after dramatic end at Pairc Esler

Kilcoo out of Ulster after dramatic end at Pairc Esler

15 November 2023

KILCOO’S Ulster Championship campaign ended in heartbreak at Pairc Esler on Sunday.

The Down champions were stunned as Scotstown produced a dramatic burst at the death to secure a place in the semi-finals.

The Magpies looked to be cruising when they went four points ahead midway through the second half when Paul Devlin converted a penalty after foul on Ceilum Doherty.

But the Monaghan champions went for broke and their gamble paid of. Kieran Hughes converted a mark to level the game deep in added time before Rory Beggan landed the winner with a 45-metre free with the final kick of the game.

Kilcoo manager Karl Lacey said afterwards: “It is disappointing when you don’t reach your potential, it makes it harder to take. We weren’t happy with our first half performance.

“We were sitting all-square at half-time. Scotstown, in fairness to them, brought real aggression and work-rate to it. We knew they’ve individual class who can step up on days like that too. That’s what it came down to.

“Without over-analysing it, we didn’t perform the way we wanted and we didn’t stick to the process the way we wanted.”

Scotstown began the game on the front foot and Shane Carey opened the scoring after receiving a beautiful pass from Darren Hughes.

But they didn’t make the most of their good play. Rory Beggan kicked three wides while Kieran Hughes was wildly off target with an early chance.

Kilcoo’s opening three points came from their half-back line of Miceal Rooney, Darryl Branagan and Eugene Branagan while midfielder Aaron Morgan scored their final point of the half.

Kilcoo full back Ryan McEvoy received a yellow card from referee Noel Mooney for an off-the-ball challenge on Scotstown defender Brendan Boylan.

The sides were level at 0-4 apiece at the interval after Scotstown registered points from Shane Carey (free) and Conor McCarthy.

Niall Kane fired Kilcoo back in front from a free just after the restart before Scotstown countered with scores from Donal Morgan and  Rory Beggan.

The game appeared to swing in Kilcoo’s favour when Doherty was awarded a penalty when he went down under a strong challenge from Darren Hughes.

For the second game in succession, Paul Devlin calmly converted the spot kick while a brace of points from Shealan Johnston and Anthony Morgan gave the Magpies a 1-7 to 0-6 lead.

The final quarter was dominated by Scotstown, although they lost substitute Ross McKenna to a late black card in stoppage time.

Jack McCarron scored a cracking point from play before landing a free from a tight angle.

Jason Carey (mark) and Beggan cut the gap to a single point before Hughes looked to have secured extra-time with a brilliant mark from 45 metres out.

From almost the exact same spot on the pitch, Hughes won a free off Ryan Johnston and left the kick to his county colleague.

Beggan made no mistake to set up a semi-final clash with Tyrone champions Trillick in a fortnight’s time.

Kilcoo: N Kane (0-1, 0-1f); N Branagan, R McEvoy, A Branagan; M Rooney (0-1), D Branagan (0-1), E Branagan (0-1); Aaron Morgan (0-1), R Johnston; S Johnston (0-1), J Devlin, Anthony Morgan (0-1); P Devlin (1-1, 1-0 pen, 0-1f), C Laverty, C Doherty.

Subs: S McCusker for J Devlin (43), C Rooney for Laverty (58).

Scotstown: R Beggan (0-3, 0-2fs); B Boylan, R O’Toole, D McArdle; C McCarthy (0-1), D Morgan (0-1), E Caulfield; D Hughes, M McCarville; J Carey (0-2, 0-1m), S Carey (0-2, 0-1f), J Hamill; M Maguire, K Hughes (0-1, 0-1m), J McCarron 0-2, 0-1f).

Subs: D Murray for Caulfield (46), M McPhillips for Hamill (52), R McKenna for Maguire (58), O Heaphy for J Carey (63).

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).