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Champions Crossmaglen Rangers have wind in their sails

Crossmaglen 4-12 St Eunan's 1-6

By Tony McGee

Published 02/01/2016

Delighted Crossmaglen rangers captain Miceal McCabe lifts the cup aloft after defeating St Eunan's
Delighted Crossmaglen rangers captain Miceal McCabe lifts the cup aloft after defeating St Eunan's

It wasn't a day for fancy football or close passing and the more wily Crossmaglen Rangers fully appreciated that in yesterday's final of the Kukri Sports Ulster Club Minor Football Tournament final, at St Paul's GAC Complex in Belfast.

The Armagh champions sped to a fully deserved 4-12 to 1-6 victory in rainy conditions with a stiff corner-to-corner wind militating against a classic but both teams did their best to overcome the conditions with Cross, by far, the more successful.

They were bigger and stronger in the tackle, giving St Eunan's little time on the ball.

Big Rory Carr, a Donegal senior quad member, was injured in the semi-final and his absence from midfield was really felt by Letterkenny as the winners dominated that area, for long spells with Oisin O'Neill deservedly taking the Ann-Marie Donnelly Memorial Trophy as Man-of-the-Final.

St Eunan's won an amount of possession, in the opening quarter, but it was Crossmaglen who led 0-4 to 0-0 at that stage and it wasn't until the 17th minute that the Donegal representatives opened their account.

Impressive Niall O'Donnell, their best attacker, flicked the ball through to hard-working half-back Brian MacIntyre and he shot to the net.

However, that goal was wiped out within a minute when Michael McCabe found the net at the other end before Ruairi O'Neill added a point, to leave the Armagh team 1-5 to 1-0 ahead after 20 minutes.

Four minutes into injury time came a sucker punch to Letterkenny.

Tall goalkeeper Matthew Gallagher rose to punch away a cross but collided with two Crossmaglen players with a penalty kick awarded.

Oisin O'Neill blasted the ball home to leave his team 2-7 to 1-4 ahead at the break.

The winners opened the second half with two points and by the 48th minute they had added two more as the game slid away from St Eunan's, who only managed two points in the second half.

A goalmouth ball fell at the feet of McCabe who knocked it over the line for his second goal, on 57 minutes.

There was now no way back for the losers who also lost Niall O'Donnell on a black card on the hour.

CROSSMAGLEN: J McEvoy; R McKeever, S Farrelly, A Smylie; D Cunningham (0-1), C Dillon, C Donnelly; S Moore (0-1), O O'Neill (1-3, 1-0 penalty, 0-1 free); R O'Neill (0-3), C O'Connor (0-1), J McKeever; M McCabe (2-1), L O'Neill (0-1), R O'Connor. Subs: S McConville (1-1) for R O'Connor (44), F Burns for Dillon (49), O Keenan for R O'Neill (53), P Short for C Donnelly (57).

LETTERKENNY: M Gallagher; C Moore, D McWalters, S Halvey; B McIntyre (1-0), D Toal, K Kealey; O Toal, K Grant; O Boyle (0-1 free), N O'Donnell (0-3, 0-2 frees), C Maloney; O McGinley, D McCrory, J Whelan. Subs: E McCrory (0-2) for Whelan (46), P McAleer for Maloney (57), G Maguire for Moore (59).

Black card: N O'Donnell (60) replaced by D Hamilton.

Referee: M McErlane (Ballinderry)

Belfast Telegraph

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