Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Joe Kernan: Crossmaglen can get better of Crokes on way to another title

Within the past 15 years Crossmaglen Rangers have won 15 Armagh Senior Championship titles, eight Ulster crowns and four All-Ireland accolades.

It’s a track record of which any club would be proud. But the success ratio has certainly not dampened the desire of the current crop of players to enhance this litany of achievements.

When they face Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland Club semi-final on Sunday, the Rangers will not only be seeking to avenge their 2009 final defeat at the hands of the Dublin club but will also be striving to take a big step towards what would be their fifth All-Ireland triumph since 1997.

Some players, including John McEntee and Oisin McConville, have been part and parcel of all these achievements but for a number this will be their first taste of an All Ireland semi-final.

This will be a big step-up for young guns like James Morgan, Danny O’Callaghan, Jamie Clarke and Stephen Finnegan.

But they are unlikely to be fazed by the challenge even though the team has not been performing to optimum levels recently.

Joint managers Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill have carefully nurtured their subtle blend of youth and experience and the team overall should be ready for the task in hand.

Kilmacud pocketed the Dublin and Leinster titles in fine style and will be very formidable opponents.

In the other semi-final, on Saturday, I would not necessarily go along with popular opinion that Nemo Rangers, the Cork and Munster champions, will get the better of Roscommon and Connacht title-holders St Brigid’s.

Don’t rule out the possibility of a St Brigid’s v Crossmaglen St Patrick’s Day decider in Croke Park.

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