Glen crowned Ulster champions after defeating Kilcoo in Athletic Grounds

Ulster Senior Football Club Championship Final

Derry champions, Glen added the Ulster title to the John McLaughlin Cup after a thrilling victory over Kilcoo in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Derry champions, Glen added the Ulster title to the John McLaughlin Cup after a thrilling victory over Kilcoo in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Glen 1-12, Kilcoo 1-06

Just over a year after claiming a first John McLaughlin Cup, Glen are the Ulster Senior Club champions.

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It's a rise straight out of a Hollywood script book but there is nothing flash in the pan about this Watty Graham's side, the base for which was being laid well over a decade ago. Sunday was the acid test for all that work, the countless unseen hours undertaken by coaches and volunteers to take the club to the pinnacle of Ulster club football.

Malachy O'Rourke proved the final piece of the Glen puzzle as the Watty's became the eighth Derry club to take the senior provincial title.

To be the best you have to beat the best and reigning All Ireland champions Kilcoo were never going to go quietly. It was engrossing rather than thrilling, but Glen were the better side throughout with Conor Glass and Conleth McGuckian outstanding among a team of brilliant performances.

It was a match in the balance right until Alex Doherty's glorious clinching goal, a goal only made possible by Ryan Dougan taking to the Armagh skies to punch Niall Kane's late goal kick right back where it came from. By that stage, Kilcoo were in 'kitchen sink' territory but Glen were in no mood to let history slip.

Once in possession, Alex Doherty sidestepped the advancing Kane and kicked this Glen team into the realms of club legends to cap an eventual six point margin.

Yet, if the goal was the crowning glory, Glen's approach was summed up five minutes earlier. Two points up but with Kilcoo pouring forward, Miceal Rooney lined up a shot that seemed destined to bring that advantage back to the minimum until, almost from nowhere, Glass appeared to block the Kilcoo man's shot and win turnover possession for an attack that would end with Danny Tallon scoring a free after Sean Og McCusker had picked up a second black card of the afternoon for the Down club.

Glass celebrated his block as if it was the winning score and it may have well been. In a match of many defining moments, it was a crucial one.

Just a critical though was a missed penalty with he last kick of the first half. Paul Devlin, the recipient of Kilcoo's first black card midway through the opening half, sent his spot-kick inches past Connlan Bradley's left hand post.

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A goal would have left Kilcoo two points up at the break after a half in which Glen had led by five at one stage. How a team responds to that sort of momentum shift would be anyone's guess. As it was Glen didn't have to worry about it and they fully deserved their 0-7 to 1-3 half-time lead.

The foundation was laid in the first quarter when Glen went after the Kilcoo kick-out and got their rewards as points from Tallon (f), Emmet Bradley (f), Glass, McGuckian and Jack Doherty had them 0-5 to no score ahead inside 10 very impressive minutes.

It looked ominous for Kilcoo at that stage but Conleith Gilligan's men then highlighted the type of resolve that had taken them to back to back Ulster titles and that famous All Ireland victory. Within two minutes of Doherty putting Glen five up, the ball was in the back of the Watty's net as Dylan Ward's superb pass picked out Aaron Branagan whose perfectly timed run split the Glen defence and allowed him to fire his side right back into the game.

Their momentum was stalled slightly by the black card for Devlin but the Down men still had shrunk Glen advantage to one point by the break. A Tallon free and a Ryan Dougan fisted effort when he could have gone for goal took the Derry tally to seven points but it was Dougan's unfortunate clash with a full pace Jerome Johnston which threatened to upset Glen control but O'Rourke's me were spared from the spot.

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Bradley and Tallon reasserted Glen control upon the restart with frees two similar efforts from Develin kept the Glen lead at a minimum.

Tallon and Aaron Branagan swapped points before Glen were indebted to a superb save by Connlan Bradley who was out smartly to block from Ceilum Doherty with Jerome Johnston unable to convert the follow up.

As time ticked by the Glen defensive resolved became even more intense, McGuckian personally covering almost every blade of grass on the Athletic Grounds pitch. The stage was set for a hero and Glen found more than one with Doherty's goal the crowning glory!

Glen scorers: Alex Doherty (1-0), D Tallon (0-5, 5f), Emmet Bradley (0-2, 2f), Conor Glass (0-1), Conleth McGuckian (0-1), Jack Doherty (0-1), Ryan Dougan (0-1), Ethan Doherty (0-1),

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Kilcoo scorers: Aaron Branagan (1-1), Paul Devlin (0-2, 2f), Ryan McEvoy (0-1, 1f), Darryl Branagan (0-1), Jerome Johnston (0-1, 1m)

Glen: Connlan Bradley, Cathal Mulholland, Ryan Dougan, Conor Carville, Tiernan Flanagan, Michael Warnock, Eunan Mulholland, Conor Glass, Emmet Bradley, Ethan Doherty, Jack Doherty, Conor Convery, Alex Doherty, Danny Tallon, Conleth McGuckian. (Subs) Cathair McCabe for C Convery, 56mins; Stevie O'Hara for

Kilcoo: Niall Kane, Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan, Eugene Branagan, Darryl Branagan, Miceal Rooney, Anthony Morgan, Dylan Ward, Ceilum Doherty, Ryan Johnston, Shealan Johnston, Conor Laverty, Jerome Johnston, Paul Devlin. (Subs) Anthony Morgan for D Ward, 34mins; Sean Og McCusker for E Branagan, 55mins;

Referee: Joe McQuillan