Kilcoo snatch All-Ireland from Kilmacud in dramatic fashion with 81st minute winning goal

Kilcoo 2-8
Kilmacud Crokes 0-13

(after extra-time)

FOR THE SECOND time today, an All-Ireland senior club final was decided by a late, late goal as Kilcoo snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Kilcoo’s Conor Laverty and lifts the cup.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Trailing Kilmacud Crokes by two points in the 81st minute, Jerome Johnston struck the most famous goal in his club’s history to deliver the Andy Merrigan Cup for the Down kingpins in dramatic fashion.

As Crokes tried to play keep ball in stoppage-time in the second-half of extra-time, Conor Ferris cleared his lines and Kilcoo worked the ball to Shealin Johnston. He picked out brother Ryan Johnston, whose goal bound shot was blocked and another brother Jerome arrived to smash home the rebound. 

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Kilmacud Crokes appeared to be coasting towards their third All-Ireland club title when they led this final by seven points in the third quarter, before a goal from Kilcoo goalkeeper Niall Kane turned it on its head.

It was strangely flat and lifeless display from a Kilcoo side for the opening 45 minutes, until Kane’s goal gave them life. Kilmacud Crokes, missing their star forward Paul Mannion due to a knee injury, were composed and clinical as they enjoyed a remarkable start to the game.  

A tie that looked to be drifting from Kilcoo all of a sudden came to life when Kane sensationally struck a fortuitous goal. His 45 dropped dangerously into the Kilmacud square and bounced into the net. All of a sudden a subdued Kilcoo were back in the contest.

After scoring just 0-2 in the opening half, they struck 1-5 in the second period to bring the game to extra-time as Kilmacud limped towards the finish line.  

Kilmacud’s greater strength in depth looked to be decisive in extra-time with Callum Pearson and Cian O’Connor having major impacts, but Kilcoo’s never say die attitude reared its head again in the final minutes. 

Johnston’s winner sealed a first All-Ireland club title as manager for Mickey Moran after three previous defeats in the final with Slaughtneil (twice) and Kilcoo. He was invited onto the Hogan Stand podium afterwards by Conor Laverty to lift the cup.

Kilmacud Crokes Dara Mullin jumps for a high ball against Kilcoo’s Dylan Ward.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Kilmacud will feel they should have won this game in both normal-time and extra-time but a failure to close it out cost them dearly.

Predictably, it was an unstructured game, largely down to Kilcoo’s tactic of dropping 14 men behind the ball. Kilmacud have faced a blanket defence on a few occasions this season and they showed great patience in breaking it down during the opening period. 

Unusually for a team with recent experience of the big day, Kilcoo looked nervy in the early stages. They left 1-2 behind them as Paul Devlin shot two wides and Conor Laverty saw a close-range strike on goal well-saved by Conor Ferris. 

Laverty was the only player from the Down champions to trouble the scoreboard in the opening period. He scored a brace as Kilcoo went in with 0-2 to their name, the same tally after the first-half of the 2020 decider against Corofin. 

Kilmacud’s intelligent forward play brought two well-taken points from Shane Horan, while Shane Cunningham, Tom Fox, Dara Mullin and Andy McGowan also added scores.

Shortly before the break Kilcoo full-back Ryan McEvoy saw a free ruled out after Hawk-Eye revealed it can travelled over the post. It was turning out to be that kind of day for Moran’s team.  

Dias almost turned in a goal at the start of the second-half only to be denied by a timely Mícheál Rooney flick off the line. A goal at that stage would have put the game beyond Kilcoo, but they retained a slim hope.


Devlin struck over a pair of frees and then Kane hit the net directly from a 45 after the Kilmacud defence failed to deal with his delivery. 

From a seemingly unassailable position, the south Dublin giants retreated into their shell. Laverty added his third, though Cian O’Connor responded for Crokes.

Anthony Morgan celebrates at the final whistle with Dylan Ward.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Devlin had the final say in normal-time with two late scores (one free) to put his team on level terms. A tense final passage of play saw Kilcoo probe for a winner, but they failed to pull the trigger as Kilmacud defended desperately.

They did well not to concede a free or scoring opportunity, although Laverty probably regretted not having a pop at the posts when he found himself in possession on the right wing. 

The loss of Dias and his marauding runs in the 60th minute due to cramp was significant for Crokes. With scores at a premium, extra-time was a tense and fascinating watch. 

A lengthy period of possession saw Anthony Morgan break the line and kick a booming point for Kilcoo. Kilmacud responded when Cian O’Connor pointed a pressure free, leaving the teams on a par with ten minutes to play. 

Pearson was having a major impact since his introduction – he clipped a point and won a free for O’Connor’s second. However, Kilcoo had the last laugh as Jerome Johnston struck at the death to take the cup.

Scorers for Kilcoo: Paul Devlin 0-4 (0-3f), Conor Laverty 0-3, Jerome Johnston and Niall Kane (1-0 45) 1-0 each, Anthony Morgan 0-1.

Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Cian O’Connor 0-3 (0-2f), Craig Dias, Shane Horan and Dara Mullin (0-1m) 0-2 each, Andy McGowan, Callum Pearson and Tom Fox (0-1f) 0-1 each.


1. Niall Kane

2. Niall Branagan, 3. Ryan McEvoy, 4. Aidan Branagan

5. Mícheál Rooney, 6. Daryl Branagan, 7. Eugene Branagan

8. Dylan Ward, 9. Aaron Morgan

15. Paul Devlin, 12. Shealin Johnston, 10. Ceilum Doherty

14. Ryan Johnston, 13. Conor Laverty, 11. Jerome Johnston


20. Anthony Morgan for Ryan Johnston (35)

17. Aidan Branagan for Morgan (47)

14. Ryan Johnston for Shealin Johnston (58)

12. Shealin Johnston for Rooney (HT in ET)


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26. Sean Og McCusker for Jerome Johnston (81)

Kilmacud Crokes

1. Conor Ferris

2. Michael Mullen, 4. Ross McGowan, 7. Dan O’Brien

6. Cillian O’Shea, 3. Rory O’Carroll, 5. Andrew McGowan

8. Ben Shovlin, 9. Craig Dias

10. Cian O’Connor, 14. Tom Fox,, 12. Shane Horan

13. Callum Pearson, 11. Dara Mullin, 15. Shane Cunningham


10. Cian O’Connor for Fox (42)

20. Conor Casey for Horan (54)

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18. Anthony Quinn for Jones (54)

13. Callum Pearson for Kenny (54) 

19. Conor Kinsella for Dias (60)

23. Theo Clancy for Michael Mullin (start of ET)

17. Aidan Jones for Ross McGowan (66)

26. Mark O’Leary for Cunningham (70)

12. Horan for Dara Mullin (HT in ET)

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

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