Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Four in a row for Crossmaglen Rangers

Family fortunes: Crossmaglen's Paul Hearty with his children Breanne and Oran and Stephen Kernan with his daughter Sophie with the Gerry Fagan Cup
Family fortunes: Crossmaglen's Paul Hearty with his children Breanne and Oran and Stephen Kernan with his daughter Sophie with the Gerry Fagan Cup

Crossmaglen Rangers 0-17 St Patrick's 0-8: It was yet another straightforward day at the office for Crossmaglen Rangers as they landed their fourth consecutive Armagh senior football championship title at the Athletic yesterday.

St Patrick's, playing in their first final, were unable to match the reigning champions in terms of pace, power and precise finishing.

But Rangers manager Joe Kernan has already made it clear that his team have more silverware in sight.

"Obviously having retained our Armagh crown we are now very keen to get our hands on the Ulster club title once again," said Kernan. "There is still a great hunger within this Rangers side and the new boys are helping to keep the more experienced lads on their toes."

Apart from two all-too-brief spells, St Patrick's were forced to play second fiddle to a team that oozed confidence and deployed their experience and craft to telling effect.

It was in a devastating spell midway through the first-half that Rangers stamped their authority on the contest.

They may have made a tepid opening during which Callum Cumiskey and Tony Donnelly traded points, but the reigning champions engaged overdrive from the ninth minute and the next ten minutes yielded six points without response.

"The good spell we enjoyed in the middle of the first-half was an important factor in our win and then we were able to build on this after the break," said Kernan.

The Rangers full-forward line of Kyle Brennan, Kyle Carragher and the ever-alert Cumiskey thrived on a sustained supply of quality possession from their midfield with latter duo each garnering three points as a beleaguered St Patrick's defence was systematically ripped apart.

They were offered a temporary reprieve when Robbie Tasker converted a 22nd minute free but when Tony Kernan piloted over a Rangers free almost immediately they remained firmly in the driving seat.

A further Tasker point reduced the deficit to 0-8 to 0-3 at half-time but the scoreline scarcely reflected the authority which Rangers had exercised wielded up until then.

That dominance was only briefly threatened at the start of the second-half before Rangers once again seized the initiative.

With David McKenna summoned from the bench to further bolster their midfield and the half-back line of Aaron Kernan, Garvan Carragher and Danny O'Callaghan forming a solid barrier, the Rangers whisked over five points between the 42nd and 50th minutes which effectively put the game out of their opponents' reach.

Even when Tasker pirated a late brace of points for St Patrick's, Rangers still managed to finish with a flourish, Tony Kernan (2) and his brother Stephen rounding off an comprehensive display that certainly augers well for their Ulster club aspirations.

Skipper Tony Kernan believes that the team have now acquired a fresh level of cohesion and their meeting with Down champions Kilcoo on November 3 promises to be the ultimate local derby battle.

Crossmaglen scorers: T Kernan 0-5 all frees, K Carragher 0-4, C Cumiskey 0-3, D McKenna, M McNamee, P Grant, A Cunningham, K Brennan 0-1 each.

St Patrick's scorers: R Tasker 0-5 all frees, C McKeever 0-2, T Donnelly 0-1.

Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; P Hughes, P McKeown, McNamee; A Kernan, G Carragher, D O'Callaghan; J Hanratty, T Kernan; A Cunningham, S Kernan, M Aherne; K Brennan, K Carragher, C Cumiskey. Subs: D McKenna for McNamee (39), P Grant for Brennan (46), L Boyce for Cunningham (58).

St Patrick's: C O'Neill; K McCooey, G McCooey, M Murray; S Reel, S Connell, C Hoey; C McKeever, B McConville; L O'Hare, R Tasker, E Casey; P Casey, M Mackin, T Donnelly. Subs: G Mackin for Donnelly, N McShane for K McCooey (both 53), P McKeevere for Reel (58).

Referee: Jim Slevin (Keady).

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