Belfast Telegraph

Monday 25 May 2015

Joe Kernan: Crossmaglen Rangers show it’s better to do talking on pitch

Outspoken: St Gall's manager Lenny Harbinson
Outspoken: St Gall's manager Lenny Harbinson

Crossmaglen Rangers found themselves coping with an additional opponent in their bid to reach the Ulster club football championship semi-finals.

As well as facing St Gall’s last Sunday, they also encountered a formidable foe in the shape of the media.

St Gall’s manager Lenny Harbinson decided that he would exert some psychological pressure on referee Joe McQuillan by publicly expressing his dissatisfaction over his appointment to take charge of the game.

Once Harbinson went into the public domain on this, the gauntlet had of course been thrown down to McQuillan.

Naturally, the Ulster Council was never going to change the referee for the match and quite rightly so.

It was disappointing to note the St Gall’s approach to the game.

Crossmaglen have now played them on three separate occasions in the Ulster Club championship and beaten them each time.

The Rangers way is that when a win comes along it is welcomed and then the focus switches to the next match.

The Armagh champions certainly do not engage in gloating nor do they seek to gain a psychological advantage over any team by what might be perceived to be dubious means.

Obviously with ten yellow cards and one red card the match was far removed from being a vicar’s tea-party but in the event, referee McQuillan coped well.

I cannot help feeling, though, that the tone for the contest had been set when Harbinson went public on his club’s thoughts on the referee.

Some things are better left unsaid and maybe St Gall’s might have fared better had they accepted the Ulster Council’s appointment and got on with their job.

Obviously the injuries to Johnny Hanratty and Paul Kernan were a disappointment for the Rangers.

While the former should be available for Sunday week’s semi-final against Ballinderry, the latter will be out for a few weeks more with a dislocated shoulder.

This will mean that joint managers Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill must now amend their full-back line for their meeting with the formidable Derry champions.

This is a potentially rivetting match up that will surely have widespread appeal given the respective track records of both teams.

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