Killough Beat Downpatrick In Tight Harry Clarke Semi Final

Killough through to final of NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup

NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup Semi-Final,

Venue: Ballyhornan, Friday 8th March 2024,

Final Score: Downpatrick FC 3 4 Killough FC.

This semi-final was played in very windy and cold conditions, but both teams were well and truly fired up for the occasion and it looked to be a potentially close match.

There was an early break from Killough’s Tony McIlhone who pressed into the wind and almost scored when the Downpatrick keeper was slightly out of position and the ball went wide.

Then Cillian Burns launched an attack and shot from outside the box but that too was held by keeper Ruairi Murphy.

There was another early attempt from a corner as the ball flew through a sea of Killough heads from a corner and Eamon Gargan just missed the connection for a likely goal.

The Killough side who are through to the final of the NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup to be played on Easter Monday. They will face either Ballynahinch YM or Castlewellan Forest.
(Photos by Jim Masson / Down News ©)

The home side eventually broke out from the grip of Killough’s forays but Killough turned the tables once again.

(Photos by Jim Masson / Down News ©).

From a cross from the right, Tony McIlhone side footed the ball into the Downpatrick net in the 15th minute to open the scoring and declare first blood for Killough.

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Killough were now playing with more urgency and confidence and Looney made a run thgroiugh the centre dribbling past defenders to the back of the box and hit a solid volley making it 2-0 for Killough on 20 minutes.

Downpatrick came fighting back and Dylan Kelly shot a low ball but it drifted wide. Then Killough see-sawed back up the pitch and McLaughlin crossed to Declan Burns who sent the ball just wide of the post.

Then bouncing back up the pitch Andrew McCoubrey also hit a shot wide. It was a question of who was going to score next as both teams were popping balls at the goals.

The Downpatrick FC team who battled against Killough in the Harry Clarke semi-final but were beaten in the closing part of the match by a late goal.

From a corner on the right, the ball found the boot of Anthony Carson who knocked it in to open the score sheet for Downpatrick in the 27th minute.

Downpatrick then went up a gear as they upped the pressure on Killough, Nathan McAllister forced Pearse McCarthy to made a crucial save.

Then after more to and fro action Carson made a great cross to Dylan Kelly who knocked the ball in to level the match on 45 minutes just before the whistle for half-time. This was a life-saver for Downpatrick.

By Kelly didn’t stop there! One minute later he headed in seconds before the half-time whistle to put his side 3-2 ahead of Killough. A fantastic turnaround.

As the second half started, McAllister was floored, signalling a change in the tone of the game. It got more combative.

Killough pressed forward and both Tony McIlhone and Declan Looney were wide with voilleys.

Nathan McCallister makes a break for Downpatrick.

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On 54 minutes McLaughlin was yellow carded for a tackle as the game heated up. Then sub Daniel Taggart headed over the bar again missing the chance to equalise.

Both teams struggled to control the ball in the strong wind at times. But Downpatrick’s defence were holding well and seemed to brick-wall the Killough attacks.

Looney again had two more chances at goal, going wide on one and keeper Murphy making a solid save with the other.

It looked as though Downpatrick could just hold on to their one goal lead… maybe! Killough were doing much of the pressing.

Just when it looked as though Downpatrick might just hold on by the seat of their pants, Killough captain Gareth George launched a volley through a sea of players in the goal area and found the top of the net levelling the match at 3-3 in the 76th minute.

Declan Looney on the ball scores for Killough FC against Downpatrick.

Both teams now were scrambling for possession and trying to squeeze ahead. There were more heavy tackles, and injuries, and the match was on a knife-edge.

Killough looked as though they were dominating at this stage but Downpatrick were fighting back.

The match finally was settled with a Looney goal in the 83rd minute for Killough making a comeback by Downpatrick very unlikely.

Downpatrick seemed a spent force and Looney a minute later almost nailed another goal were it not for a brilliant save from keeper Murphy.

The home side did rally towards the end of the match but the clock and the whistle finally beat their efforts to get into extra time for a chance to redress the goal difference.

Early in the first half Downpatrick manager was seeing red and received a yellow card. He was disappointed that his side did not make it through to the final, but he can be rest assured the young side gave everything they had, and more.

Downpatrick are a side that will mature and will do well in campaigns and in seasons to come.

Killough had the edge in attacking and shear drive, but it was a close call with Killough going 2 goals up then losing 3 in a row and pulling a goal back then getting a life-saver at the end when the teams were hung at 3-3 to finally win at 3-4.

It was a physically tough and fast-paced match by two fit and entertaining teams.

Well done guys!


Downpatrick FC: 1 Ruairi Murphy (GK) 2 Ryan Cassidy 3 Morgan Fitzpatrick 4 Shea Holland 5 Con Farrell 6 Adrian McCoubrey (C) 7 Nathan McAllister 8 Josh Montgomery 9 Dylan Kelly 10 Anthony Carson 11 Andrew McCoubrey. Subs: 12 Seanny Duggan 14 Jake Harding 15 Cionor Moore 16 Barry Treacy 17 Darragh McKibben.

Killough FC: 1 Pearse McCarthy (GK) 2 Sean Og Burns 3 Gareth George (C) 4 Caoimhin Groves 5 Eamon Gargan 6 Cillian Burns, 7 Declan Burns 8 Ruairi Sharvin 9 Declan Looney 10 Ben McLaughlin 11 Tony McIlhone. 12 Dylan Duffy 13 Conor Kelly 14 Daniel Taggart 15 Jamie McIlhone 16 Riain Burns.

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