Centre-back Aaron Branagan’s 38th minute goal sent Kilcoo on the road to victory over Derrygonnelly Harps in today’s Ulster Club SFC semi-final at the Athletic Grounds.
Mickey Moran’s men were forced to dig deep into their reservoir of experience to dig out a 1-8 to 0-9 victory and qualify for a third Ulster final appearance.
Defences were very much on top during a first-half which finished with the team in black and white ahead by 0-4 to 0-2.
The second-half was eight minutes old when Anthony Morgan laid the goal chance on a plate for ‘man-of-the-match’ Branagan, one of five brothers on the winning team, and he made no mistake from close range.
That score left the Down champions ahead by 1-5 to 0-5 but they were made to sweat for the win.
Eugene Branagan put Kilcoo four up with five minutes to go but their Fermanagh opponents replied with three unanswered points through Garvan Jones, Conall Jones and Jack Love.
Corner-back Love’s score arrived in the fifth minute of added-on time but, from the resulting kick-out, the Down champions worked a Ryan Johnston fisted point and the referee’s whistle sounded shortly after.
Both teams finished with 14 men after Lee Jones (Derrygonnelly Harps) and Jerome Johnson picked up second yellow cards late on while the Fermanagh champions were left to rue a number of missed scoring chances.
Kilcoo - M McCourt; N Branagan, Aidan Branagan, N McEvoy; Anthony Morgan, Aaron Branagan (1-1), D Branagan; Aaron Morgan, D Ward; E Branagan (0-1), P Devlin (0-2f), R Johnston (0-1); R McEvoy (0-2f), J Johnston (0-1), C Laverty. Subs: J Clarke for Anthony Morgan, J McClean for Aaron Morgan, S Johnston for N McEvoy.
Derrygonnelly Harps - J Kelly; J Love (0-1), T Daly, M Jones; E McHugh, Shane McGullion, G McGinley (0-1); R Jones, C Jones (0-1f); L Jones, Stephen McGullion (0-1), D Cassidy (0-1); G Jones (0-3, 2f), K Cassidy (0-1), G McGovern. Subs: G McKenna for G McGovern, R McHugh for K Cassidy, N Gallagher for G McGinley, A McKenna for E McHugh.
Referee - P Hughes.Tweet