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Goals from Johnston and Branagan fire Kilcoo past Ballyboden into maiden All-Ireland final

The Down kingpins had three points to spare over Anthony Rainbow’s side.

Kilcoo's Daryl Branagan goes past Colm Basquel of Ballyboden St. Enda's.
Kilcoo's Daryl Branagan goes past Colm Basquel of Ballyboden St. Enda's.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kilcoo (Down) 2-8

Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin) 0-11

Paul Fitzpatrick reports from Kingspan Breffni

DOWN CHAMPIONS KILCOO raised a green flag in each half as they held off a stern challenge from Ballyboden to march into their first All-Ireland club SFC decider.

In wintry conditions in Cavan – where the floodlights were on from early afternoon – the Ulster winners were the better side but were made to battle all the way by a committed Ballyboden outfit. 

Kilcoo got lots of bodies back but their counter-attacking play was exemplary, with terrific movement up front, flawless handling of the ball and, crucially, huge pace in the likes of ball-carriers Ryan Johnston and Jerome Johnston.

The Magpies were two in front, 1-5 to 0-6, at half-time and a 42nd minute goal from wing-back Darl Branagan proved the vital score, re-energising them for the inevitable last-quarter onslaught from Anthony Rainbow’s ’Boden side.

Early on, there was little to choose between them before Paul Devlin opened the scoring for Kilcoo after good work from Conor Laverty.

’Boden hit the front for the first time in the contest when Ryan Basquel nailed a tricky free and the evergreen Conal Keaney got on the end of a Declan O’Mahony pass and drilled over from 20 metres.

A Ryan McEvoy free levelled matters before Keaney picked out Basquel with a perfect pass and the full-forward popped over again to make it 0-3 to 0-2.

But Kilcoo levelled at the end of the first quarter with a free from Devlin and then went through the gears, with their speed up top causing Anthony Rainbow’s side problems.

On 21 minutes, they struck for an excellent goal. A high ball was cleverly flicked down by Conor Laverty to Aidan Branagan; he released Ryan Johnston and the speedster’s finish was exceptional.

Colm Basquel and Paul Devlin traded frees before Kilcoo strung a superb move together, breaking out of defence in trademark fashion before Aaron Morgan supplied a classy finish to put four between them for the first time.

Ballyboden finished the half well with a brace of frees from Ryan Basquel and, on the restart, they moved within one when Kieran Kennedy spun over a beauty with the outside of the boot.

aidan-branagan-and-ross-mcgarry Kilcoo's Aidan Branagan in possession. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But Kilcoo were still managing to punch holes in their defence at the other end. A goal chance went a-begging but they made sure of the next one. Dyaln Ward’s fisted point attempt struck an upright and fell perfectly into the arms of Daryl Branagan and the Man of the Match made no mistake with a cool finish.

That made it a five-point game and it could have been all over but for a cracking save from Daragh Gogan. As they showed in the Leinster final, Ballyboden never give up and they camped in front of the Kilcoo goals for much of the closing stages.

They were rewarded with frees from the Basquel brothers and a point for sub Warren Egan but Shealan Johnston clipped over to keep the scoreboard ticking at the other end.

Ballyboden lost Michael Dara Macauley and sub Aran Waters to black cards but they kept on coming.

However, a couple of uncharacteristic wides from Ryan Basquel didn’t help the Saints’ cause as Kilcoo weathered a heavy storm. Deep in injury time, however, they countered and Ryan McEvoy took responsibility, landing an inspirational score.

His fist pump afterwards said it all – Kilcoo, at long last, were heading for Croker.

Scorers for Kilcoo: Ryan Johnston 1-0, Aidan Branagan 1-0, Paul Devlin 0-3 (2f), Ryan McEvoy 0-3 (1f), Shealan Johnston 0-1, Aaron Morgan 0-1.

Scorers for Ballyboden: Ryan Basquel 0-6 (5f), Colm Basquel 0-3f, Conal Keaney 0-1, Warren Egan 0-1.


1 Martin McCourt

2 Niall Branagan
3 Ryan McEvoy
4 Niall McEvoy

5 Eugene Branagan
6 Aaron Branagan
7 Daryl Branagan

8 Aaron Morgan
9 Aidan Branagan

10 Dylan Ward
11 Paul Devlin
12 Ryan Johnston

13 Shealan Johnston
14 Jerome Johnston
15 Conor Laverty

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24 Justin Clarke for D Branagan (BC, 55 mins)
22 Felim McGreevy for Ward (63)

Ballyboden St Enda’s

1 Darragh Gogan

2 Bob Dwan
3 Shane Clayton
4 Cathal Flaherty

5 Kieran Kennedy
6 Robbie McDaid
7 Brian Bobbett

8 Michael Darragh Macauley
9 Declan O’Mahoney

10 Darren O’Reilly
11 Colm Basquel
12 Alan Flood

13 Ross McGarry
14 Ryan Basquel
15 Conal Keaney


17 Aran Waters for Bobbett (36 mins)
20 Tom Hayes for McGarry (38)
22 Darragh Nelson for Waters (BC, 41)
18 Warren Egan for Flood (48), James Holland for Macauley (BC, 52)
25 Seamus Ó Maidín for O’Reilly (53)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary).

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About the author:

Paul Fitzpatrick

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