Ulster Club SFC: Kilcoo and Naomh Conaill progress to semi-finals

Jerome Johnston hit Kilcoo's crucial goal against Magherafelt
Jerome Johnston's second-half goal helped Kilcoo see off Magherafelt at Newry

Kilcoo and Naomh Conaill progressed to the Ulster Club Football semi-finals by overcoming Magherafelt and Castlerahan.

Jerome Johnston's second-half goal was the crucial Kilcoo score as they beat Magherafelt 1-11 to 0-9.

Ciaran Thompson netted Naomh Conaill's goal in their 1-11 to 0-11 win as they withstood a late Castlerahan rally.

Naomh Conaill led by seven after 40 minutes but the exertions of their Donegal campaign seemed to then kick in as Castlerahan fought back.

However, Dermot Molloy's late point steadied Naomh Conaill nerves as they held on.

In Newry, Kilcoo overcame Magherafelt as the seasoned Ulster Championship campaigners flexed their muscles in an impressive second-half display.

There was just one point in the game at the interval despite the Down champions dominating long periods of the opening half.

Having surrendered three early scores Magherafelt, enjoying their first provincial outing in 41 years, reeled off three scores of their own to level before a pair of Paul Devlin frees put Kilcoo back in front.

The game's pivotal moment came six minutes after the break when Kilcoo turned over a short Magherafelt kick out and quickly moved the ball to Conor Laverty who played in Jerome Johnston, with the Down forward driving his low effort into the far corner.

From there the Magpies saw out the result in a controlled manner, with Laverty and Johnston helping to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

There was controversy in injury time when Magherafelt's Simon McErlain saw his goal chalked off after the referee decided against playing an advantage.

The O'Donovan Rossas were to be denied again just moments later with Kilcoo keeper Martin McCourt producing a spectacular stop to keep out Emmet McGuckin's goal-bound effort.

Dermot Molloy hit Naomh Conaill's steadying final point against Castlerahan
Naomh Conaill celebrated another triumph four days after their victory in the Donegal Final second replay

Naomh Conaill's exertions in the marathon Donegal Final perhaps explained their late wobble against Castlerahan at Kingspan Breffni but they held on for a deserved victory.

Ciaran Thompson's 24th-minute goal ultimately ultimately proved the difference between the sides while his brother Anthony also produced a tremendous display for the Glenties outfit which included three points and a couple of vital defensive interventions.

Kieran Gallagher's first-minute score started a run of four unanswered Naomh Conaill points and while Cormac Daly's 18th-minute Castlerahan opener was quickly followed by a Brian Ennis score, the Thompson brothers then came to the fore as Anthony pointed before Ciaran lashed to the net.

Castlerahan did leave only a kick of the ball between the sides at half-time after points from Stephen Cooney, Karl Cosgrove and Daly. Indeed the margin could have been ever closer as Naomh Conaill keeper Stephen McGrath saved an Enda Flanagan goal chance, before Daly pointed the resultant 45.

However, Naomh Conaill dominated the crucial third quarter as they hit five out of six scores to move into a seven-point advantage.

Castlerahan did produce a big closing 15 minutes as they notched five unanswered scores including two Cosgrove frees which left only two in it .

The Cavan champions gambled on the fitness of Cian Mackey as he was introduced in the second period but while he did attempt a couple of bursts, he was unable to make any real impact, with his best attempt at a score an effort for a point which came back off the crossbar.

SUNDAY'S AIB ULSTER CLUB SFC QUARTER-FINALS RESULTS

Castlerahan 0-11 Naomh Conaill 1-11

Derrygonnelly 1-17 Trillick 3-11 (Derrygonnelly win 6-5 on pens)

Kilcoo 1-11 Magherafelt 0-9

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