Rory Beggan helps Scotstown send Kilcoo crashing out of the Ulster club championship

Monaghan champions will aim to improve their dreadful record in Ulster after beating the two-time provincial champions with a couple of brilliant injury-time scores

Scotstown (Monaghan) 0-12 Kilcoo (Down) 1-8

It ended with a Rory Beggan free.

One of those free kicks where you, interested person who hasn’t seen the match, you can close your eyes and see the free because although you didn’t see it here, you’ve seen it countless times before.

The ball was on the 45-metre line, 10 metres in from the sideline and so, by the square on the hypotenuse, about a 55-metre kick. Okay, 54.362211 recurring, since it’s Science Week.

Beggan had missed three placed efforts in the opening half. One, he slipped as he kicked. Another, he probably should have worked a move from because the angle was tight, even for him. The third was a bad miss.


Yet this one, it sailed over in that perfect Rory Beggan parabola, spearing through the posts, high above the black spot with miles to spare. And just like that, Kilcoo were gone and Scotstown were through.

This, to put it mildly, was not an outcome that looked likely when three of the five minutes of added time had passed. Kilcoo corner forward Paul Devlin had tapped over a close-in free to put the Down champions a point up and with Ross McKenna in the sinbin for Scotstown, it was difficult to see where the Monaghan champions were going to get an equaliser from, never mind a winner.

But a brilliant Kieran Hughes score from a mark – bent in from the wrong wide with his left boot – and then that deathless Beggan free got them out the gap.

“I would never have to be persuaded to take a free,” Beggan said afterwards. “My job is to take those frees as they come up. You miss some. Everybody misses some frees. But I was delighted to get a chance to make up for it. I have missed big frees in the past and you probably thought you would never get a chance to make it up.

“Kilcoo are experienced but we have been in this competition for seven years. The losses have steeled us and I felt this year it was a big target of ours. No disrespect to the Monaghan championship but we said to ourselves when we got out of that group we would have to go up a couple of levels.”

This is the thing with Scotstown. They’ve won eight out of the last 11 Monaghan titles but their recent record in Ulster is pitiful.

As their manager David McCague pointed out afterwards, they came in here with five wins outside Monaghan in 11 games over the past decade. Six of their starting team here played in the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin in the summer. They’ve been around long enough to do better.

But for a fair stretch of the second half here, they looked like they were goosed. After a decent if nip-and-tuck affair went to the break with the sides level at 0-4 apiece, Kilcoo kicked on with a Devlin penalty 10 minutes after the break.

The hard running of Daryll Branagan, Eugene Branagan and Shealan Johnston kept bearing fruit and when Anthony Morgan finished off another fast break in the 46th minute, they were 1-7 to 0-6 ahead. Four points felt like a big lead at that stage.

Scotstown needed the next score – and it came courtesy of Jack McCarron after a huge fetch on the edge of the square.

The insurance score never came for Kilcoo – Shealan Johnston kicked a wide, they overdid a goal chance soon after and Scotstown kept coming. A McCarron free, a Beggan free, a mark by Jason Carey (from a lovely arced Beggan pass). Level game as the hour struck.

Five minutes of added time. Kilcoo thought they had it when Devlin iced his free on 63. But Hughes and Beggan had other ideas.

“You talk about clutch moments and taking advantage of opposition mistakes,” said Scotstown manager McCague afterwards. “But they’re good footballers. To go along with that, they have experience.

“We had huge experience on the field there at the end. In terms of what Kieran did, what Rory did, Darren [Hughes] caught a great ball in the square, Jack [McCarron] had a couple of great scores inside. We have great experience on the field and great ability. You put those two things together and a wee bit of luck, it helps.”

Kilcoo: Niall Kane (0-1); Niall Branagan, Ryan McEvoy, Aaron Branagan; Miceal Rooney (0-1), Darryl Branagan (0-1), Eugene Branagan (0-1); Aaron Morgan (0-1), Ryan Johnston; Shealan Johnston (0-1), Jack Devlin, Anthony Morgan (0-1); Paul Devlin (1-1, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free), Conor Laverty, Ceilum Doherty. Subs: Sean Óg McCusker for J Devlin, 43 mins; Christopher Rooney for Laverty, 58 mins

Scotstown: Rory Beggan (0-3, 0-2 frees); Brendan Boylan, Ryan O’Toole, Damien McArdle; Conor McCarthy (0-1), Donal Morgan (0-1), Emmett Caulfield; Darren Hughes, Michael McCarville; Jason Carey (0-2, 0-1 mark), Shane Carey (0-2, 0-1 free), Kieran Hughes (0-1, mark); Mattie Maguire, James Hamill, Jack McCarron (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: Darragh Murray for Caulfield, 46 mins; Mark McPhillips for Hamill, 52 mins; Ross McKenna for Maguire, 58 mins; Orin Heaphey for J Carey, 64 mins

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times