Crossmaglen Rgs 2-11 Kilmacud Crokes 1-12: Talk of whether or not this Crossmaglen team could recapture the form which made them the most formidable side in the land has been firmly put to rest after they twice came back from the dead to overcome 13-man Kilmacud Crokes at Pairc Tailteann, Navan.
“We thought we were dead and buried after ten minutes and we thought we were dead and buried again at half-time,” mused Armagh and Cross legend Oisin McConville.
“We were struggling. We got a very fortuitous goal and that put us back into the game. We managed to get a foothold in the game and we made the extra man count.”
Indeed for a time, the Ulster champions had a two man advantage when Brian McGrath saw red for an off the ball trip on Aaron Kernan.
Minutes later his opposite number Danny O’Callaghan received the same punishment for a use of the knee on Rory O’Carroll.
The Dublin men had registered six points on the board before the winners even had sight of goal. Liam Óg Ó hEineachain got the opening score after only 20 seconds. This was followed by further points from Craig Dias and Declan Kelleher as well as three by Brian Kavanagh.
A brace of frees from Aaron Kernan sandwiched a similar effort by McConville settled them. Just seconds after Tony Kernan had cut the deficit, Kevin Nolan, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Stephen Kernan, caught Johnny Hanratty in the face. Nolan was shown his second yellow.
Another free from Kavanagh cancelled out Kernan’s third of the half to restore the two-point advantage. Then Craig Dias’ found the empty net.
Kavanagh scored another. After the break Jamie Clarke put Cross back within four. Francis Hanratty then flicked a loose ball home.
Dias split the posts from close range. But a McConville free was spilled by keeper David Nestor to leave Clarke with a simple finish.
The red cards for McGrath and O’Callaghan followed but Mark Vaughan put Crokes in the lead. Kavanagh found his range to put two between them.
But Crossmaglen added the next four scores from McConville (free), Kyle Carragher and Mark Aherne (2) to complete the comeback and ensure their final berth against St Brigid’s of Roscommon.
SCORERS – Crossmaglen Rangers: J Clarke 1-1, A Kernan 0-3 (3f), O McConville(2f), M Aherne 0-2 each, K Carragher, T Kernan, J Hanratty 0-1 each. Kilmacud Crokes: B Kavanagh 0-7 (5f), C Dias 1-2, D Kelleher, L Óg Ó hEineachain, M Vaughan 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: D Nestor, C Lamb, Ross O’Carroll, K Nolan, R Ryan, B McGrath, C O’Sullivan, P Duggan, C Dias, L Óg Ó hEineachain, D Kelleher, A Morrissey, P Burke, B Kavanagh, M Coughlan. Subs: B Hanamy for Duggan (21), M Vaughan for Coughlan (38), Rory O’Carroll for Kelleher (43), B O’Rorke for Ó hEineachain (55), E Culligan for O’Sullivan (59).
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS: P Hearty, P McKeown, P Kernan, J Morgan, A Kernan, D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan, J Hanratty, D McKenna, J Clarke, S Kernan, F Hanratty, T Kernan, A Cunningham, O McConville. Subs: J McEntee for McKenna (18), K Carragher for F Hanratty (43), M Aherne for Finnegan (56), F Bellew for Clarke (60).
Referee: M Condon (Waterford).