Darryl Branagan runs himself into the Healy Park grass for Kilcoo 1 week ago

Darryl Branagan runs himself into the Healy Park grass for Kilcoo

Kilcoo 2-11 Naomh Conaill 2-9

There are no half-measures in Kilcoo.

And when the mountain men of county Down go, they go unbelievably hard.

Mickey Moran's side displayed levels of fitness rarely, if ever before seen on a club GAA pitch in Sunday's Ulster final and this non-stop energy, combined with an impressive clinical edge, took them to a first ever Ulster title at Healy Park.

At long, long last.

The Down kingpings have been on this Ulster beat for a number of years now. Having won eight of the last 11 county titles, they've had their chances, they've had their heartbreak.

Quarter finals, semi-finals, finals. They've had their fill of near misses - the closest coming in 2012 and 2015 when they lost to Slaughtneil and Crossmaglen in the respective finals.

They weren't for losing this time around.

There was an ace up Kilcoo's sleeve this year. Mickey Moran was the difference. The legendary Derry man came in as the team's manager in 2018 and he brought a proud record along with him.

In this decade alone, he'd brought Slaughtneil to three Ulster finals. They never lost one. He saw out the decade in a fitting manner, guiding Kilcoo to his fourth Ulster club title in ten years.

Phenomenal stuff from a phenomenal man. Kilcoo knew what they were getting.

And Moran delivered the goods. Playing like a true Mickey Moran team, Kilcoo were honest and gritty. They were fit and hungry.

They fought for every ball, never gave an inch and the sight of their players galloping up and down the field in unison was breath-taking. Their stamina was peerless.

And though Naomh Conaill battled hard and wouldn't go down until the final whistle, they just couldn't live with the Down side's intensity of effort. They scrapped like hounds.

This was perhaps best shown up in the 38th minute by their remarkable captain Darryl Branagan. He started the move as he did all day, cutting through the blanket with verve and abandon. He wouldn't stop 'til he'd finished it either.

Three men tried to tackle him. They knocked him, but they couldn't stop him. He went again - and the willingness to make that support run sums up the man's fitness - and somehow summoned the energy to strike a bullet home.

That put them six up and though Anthony Thompson and Charles McGuinness never stopped, Kilcoo had the work done.

Their first ever Ulster title. This was as sweet as they come.