Magpies pick Maghery apart

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Magpies pick Maghery apart thumbnailKilcoo’s Paul Devlin tries to offload on Sunday against Maghery at Pairc Esler.

AS expected Kilcoo swept aside Armagh champions Maghery with little difficulty to set up a tasty Ulster Final clash against Slaughtneil, writes Steve Malone.


Kilcoo had done the hard work before Sunday's encounter leaving them perfectly poised to pick off Maghery, who were in unchartered waters.

It was no disgrace from the Armagh champions either, after all they won the county title for the first time this season and already recorded a win in their first every outing in Ulster.

Any chances Maghery had on springing a surprise disappeared when Armagh captain, Aidan Forker received a red card only minutes before half-time. It was a massive blow for the north Armagh side but in truth, Kilcoo had quickly gotten the measure of their opponents and were only starting to exert control.

It would be unfair to Kilcoo to suggest they didn't need to get out of first gear as they still played scintillating football and did things right without picking up a single yellow card.

Played in Pairc Esler, Newry in front of a crowd of 5,200, although about 2000 had left before the final whistle, Maghery showed that they were willing to take the game to Kilcoo, but while the ambition was there the execution wasn't and against Kilcoo that isn't enough.

Conor Mackle opened the scoring for Maghery but from the outset it was clear Conor Laverty was going to cause havoc and Gerard Campbell entered referee Gerald McQuillan's book as early as the fifth minute, after fouling the lively Magpies talisman. Paul Devlin pointed from the resultant free before the speedy Eugene Branagan chipped in with a point to give Kilcoo the lead.

Niall McEvoy was excellent in the Kilcoo defence, snuffing out any half chances, while Ceilum Doherty and Paul Devlin looked dangerous in attack and there was a sign of things to come when Doherty's shot was well saved by Maghery 'keeper, Johnny Montgomery.

Doherty popped over a point after Laverty sucked in enough defenders before the delivering the perfect pass.

A stunning long-range strike from Paul Devlin and another clever strike from Ryan Johnston put the Down champions in the driving seat.

Aidan Forker and Conor Mackle replied either side of Paul Devlin's converted free but another from Devlin and a point from his younger brother Martin gave Kilcoo a five-point lead.

Manager McIver swapped Ryan Johnston with Laverty - giving the young student a chance to lead the attack and within seconds Daryll Branagan delivered a wonderful pass into Ryan and out in front of his marker he gave Kevin Nugent the slip and with only the 'keeper to beat struck with venom for an excellent goal.

The score was emphatic as it ended the contest and showed that Kilcoo were hitting form. Aidan Forker's converted free offered a light relief but then he was shown a red card.

His dismissal was not the turning point and Maghery manager Shane McConville wanted to make that clear after the match.

“The last thing I want is this report to end up that Aidan Forker gets the blame for this," said McConville.

“The game was already heading for a very tough game with 15 players.

“Whatever you write, make sure Aidan Forker does not get any blame here. Yes, he was foolish, and it is something he will have to live with, that's fine, but don't make it any worse than what he needs.

“Maghery were outplayed, probably outclassed and that's experience for you. Coming here it wasn't going to be easy. I did talk Maghery up, that's the manager's job. But I have no regrets here. Kilcoo were by far a 10-point team better than us in my opinion."

The second half was three minutes old when Doherty bagged his first of two goals, with Laverty delivering the decisive pass.

Ronan Lappin, Stefan Forker and Niall Forker found the target as Maghery chipped away at the lead. But Kilcoo had the game won and finished the game with a flurry. Aaron Morgan awoke Kilcoo with a fisted point and goals from substitute JJ McLoughlin and Doherty quickly followed.

The scores were as swift as they were classy and Maghery could not live with the intensity Kilcoo brought to the game. Ryan Johnston, Donal Kane and Gerard McEvoy all got on the scoresheet as Kilcoo planned for bigger tests ahead.

It was an excellent team performance and they left enough room for improvement too, which is the best way to go into the final.

Maghery can be content with the season they have had, but Kilcoo won't rest until they win the Ulster title, but they'll face their biggest test in five years when they take on the Derry champions.


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