Some Branagans to look out for

Peter Campbell sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

When Michael Murphy takes up station at full-forward on Sunday in Pairc Esler, Newry, he can be assured that there will be a Branagan in close proximity.

The Down champions, Kilcoo, who have won five in-a-row in Down, are backboned by the Branagan brothers. Five of them played in the county final, and on Sunday next the numbers 4, 5, 6, 7 will all have the name Branagan in the programme.

Three of them - Aaron, Darryl and Eugene make up an all-Branagan half-back line that is the line which has been to the fore in Kilcoo being so successful in recent times in Down.

Club football in Down is very competitive, and to have won five in-a-row is some achievement. Of all the Branagan brothers, Darryl at centre half-back has been a central figure. It is said that it is he who makes the Down club side tick and I'm sure that will not have gone unnoticed in the Glenswilly preparations.

I'm sure also that as they prepare for the Donegal champions this week, they will have their plans to curtail Michael Murphy, and it is unlikely he will get as much room as he did agaisnt Kilcar.

Elsewhere, Kilcoo will look to lively forward, Conor Laverty, to do the business up front. Laverty, a regular at county level until this year, is a tricky customer and Glenswilly will have to curtail him. He created the match-winning goal for Ryan Johnston in the preliminary round against Scotstown .

He was the winner of the Ulster GAA Writers' Player of the Month recently and speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he spoke about Glenswilly coming up trumps against Kilcar.

“They have players like Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy in their line-up and that convinces us we face a real battle.

“We were being described as a pale shadow of former Kilcoo teams at the beginning of the year but all the players buckled down and the end result was brilliant — a fifth county title on the trot. We now find ourselves in the position of chasing Burren’s iconic six-in-a-row.”

The matchwinner for Kilcoo in the Scotstown game was Ryan Johnston, who came in at half-time and scored the vital goal which made the difference.

Kilcoo are managed by Paul McIver, son of former Donegal manager, Brian.

The Kilcoo team against Scotstown was: N Kane, N McEvoy, D O’Hanlon, N Branagan, D Branagan, Aidan Branagan, Aaron Branagan 0-1, J McClean, JJ McLoughlin, C Doherty, A Morgan 0-1, D Kane 0-1 (f), M Devlin 0-2, P Devlin 0-3 (2f), C Laverty. Subs: R Johnston 1-0 for Aidan Branagan (HT), D McEvoy for D Kane (57), F McGreevy for J McClean (57), C Laverty for C Doherty (59), G McEvoy for M Devlin (59).

No Down team has won an Ulster club title since Burren in 1988. Kilcoo were beaten finalists in 2012, while Glenswilly were beaten finalists in 2013.