Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Crossmaglen curse luck for quarter clash

Home: David McKenna has bolstered Rangers with his return

Crossmaglen Rangers could be forgiven for thinking that the gods have been conspiring against them in their build-up to tonight's championship quarter-final tie against their great Armagh city rivals Pearse Og at the Athletic Grounds (8.00pm).

Jamie Clarke is missing as he is in the United States, Paul Kernan is out for a year with a serious shoulder injury, James Morgan is awaiting surgery following injuries sustained in a road accident and Ronan Finnegan is unavailable for the same reason while Oisin McConville has retired.

But there is a silver lining to very dark cloud and David McKenna provided this for the perennial Orchard county champions through his timely arrival home from Australia.

It was just last Saturday that McKenna touched down on Irish soil again having been gone for some months but while he won't start tonight he will still be a valuable addition to a decimated squad.

Evergreen goalkeeper Paul Hearty is still in the frame although current Armagh U21 custodian Paul McEntee is jostling strongly for a starting place.

Paul McKeown, Martin Ahern and Aaron kernan are still key figures in the defence.

Johnny Hanratty is likely to carry a big burden of responsibility at midfield while Aaron Cunningham, Tony Kernan and Michael McNamee are will help bolster the attack.

Pearse Og are the only team to have temporarily dented the Rangers supremacy in Armagh when they won the title in 2009 and tonight manager Ciaran Hughes will rely on a mixture of youth and experience.

Sean Moore, Paul Duffy, Chris Rafferty, Mark Cullen and skipper Ciaran McKinney will bolster a Pearse Og side that will, however, be without the suspended Conor Clarke and could yet be missing the injured J P Donnelly.

Tomorrow night Granemore will face Ballymacnab in what should be a spicy local derby between two well-matched sides in the last eight.

On Sunday, Armagh skipper Ciaran McKeever will be at the helm of a St Patrick's side that will be favourites to get the better of Sarsfields.

Carrickcruppen and Maghery will meet in the last of the quarter-finals with the former side bolstered by the inclusion of Stephen Harold at midfield.

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