Sports

Magic Magpies soar towards ambitious win

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Magic Magpies soar towards ambitious win thumbnailDarragh O’Hanlon is tackled by Donegal star, Michael Murphy during Sunday’s Ulster Senior Championship clash at Pairc Esler. Photograph: Brendan Monaghan

KILCOO took a huge step towards their ambition of winning the Ulster Senior Club Championship when they defeated Glenswilly at Pairc Esler on Sunday, writes Tony Bagnall.

Kilcoo ...1-12
Glenswilly ...1-06

In this Ulster quarter final the Magpies gave a tremendous performance, having six points to spare against the Donegal champions, back-boned by arguably the best footballer in the nation, Michael Murphy.

Early on Kilcoo looked the better side, showing speed, skill and superior fitness, but towards the end of the first half and the early stages of the second Glenswilly got back into the match.

However, without doubt the game-changer came on 41 minutes when Donegal's Cathal Gallagher, who just minutes before had missed a glaring goal opportunity at one end, took down Conor Laverty, who was through on goal, at the other. Referee Barry Cassidy flashed a straight red card at Gallagher and awarded a penalty kick.

And when the excellent Darragh O'Hanlon blasted into the net from the spot-kick, Kilcoo were on their way into the Ulster semi-final.

Manager Paul McIvor said: "We showed an awful lot of guts and character. You can do what you like on a training field, but when you come up against the Glenswilly system where they have six foot - six four boys across the 40-metre line, it's hard to break it down."

On the threat of the mighty Michael Murphy, McIvor said: "We moved Jimmy McClean back to full back. His physicality allowed Darragh O'Hanlon to roam forward a wee bit.

“It was better for us and in fairness to Jimmy I thought he had an awesome second half on Michael Murphy. But the rest of the team put serious pressure on the ball in the second half, which they weren't doing in the first.

“We had a decent start and we were taking them on with pace but then we started to slow things down and we allowed them to dictate matters for the last 20 minutes of the first half.

“We weren't playing to our strengths, we were playing to theirs, but the boys got to grips with this."

On the injury to Darragh O'Hanlon that saw him stretchered off the park, Paul said: "Darragh's away to the hospital and from the management and the rest of the team we wish him luck.

“Hopefully it's not as serious as we think. He has a neck brace on and he has a seriously sore neck and shoulder. But please God he's in the right care."

O'Hanlon opening the scoring on three minutes with a free and on six Paul Devlin knocked over another.

And with 14 minutes gone the Magpies were four points to one up, Ryan Johnston and Eugene Branagan on target for the Down men and Brian Farrelly pointing at the other.

However, in the next eight minutes Glenswilly fired over three times via Murphy, Gary McFadden and Oisin Crawford with Paul Devlin the only one able to score for Kilcoo.

And the visitors received a huge boost three minutes before the break when referee Cassidy awarded the Donegal men a penalty after he adjudged Daryll Branagan had fouled Farrelly. Up stepped the confident figure of Michael Murphy and he blasted into the bottom corner with 'keeper Niall Kane not having a prayer of saving.

A Paul Devlin free kick ended the half with the visitors ahead by a single score.

On the resumption Ryan Johnston squared matters, but Glenswilly pushed in front again with points from Murphy and Oisin Crawford. And it could have been worse for Kilcoo, as on 37 minutes Murphy did brilliantly to set up Cathal Gallagher who shot wide with the nets gaping.

A Paul Devlin free brought the sides to within a point of each other and then came that O'Hanlon penalty kick that put Kilcoo 1-08 to 1-06 in front.

That in effect was the beginning of the end for the Donegal champions, with Conor Laverty, Donal Kane, Paul Devlin and Niall Kane adding further minor scores.

The match though ended on a sour note as the referee, Cassidy handed a straight red card to Brian Farrelly in the last seconds of injury for a serious foul tackle on Darragh O'Hanlon that held up play for almost five minutes and saw the young Kilcoo man stretchered off and taken to hospital to be treated for a neck injury.

For their heroics Kilcoo will now meet Armagh champions Maghera in the Ulster semi-final.

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