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Maghery all fired up to make their mark in Ulster

By John Campbell

Published 29/10/2016

Leading light: Skipper James Lavery eyes more glory for Maghery
Leading light: Skipper James Lavery eyes more glory for Maghery

Maghery captain James Lavery has endured his fair share of disappointments at club championship level having long since been forced to acknowledge Crossmaglen Rangers' seemingly invincible authority in Armagh.

But when the status quo was shook to its foundations through a St Patrick's semi-final victory over the Rangers, a whole new world opened for Lavery's intrepid warriors.

Victory in the Orchard County final over that same St Patrick's side not only ushered Maghery into the history books but set the scene for tomorrow's tantalising Ulster Club Championship quarter-final against Cavan kingpins Ramor United at the Athletic Grounds (2.30pm).

For Lavery, now 30, the chance to stride the provincial stage is an opportunity he aims to grasp with both hands.

"Winning the Armagh final was a dream come true but since then our focus has been on the Ulster Championship. I have watched boys in this Maghery side mature this year and they are ready for battle. Our manager Shane McConville believes we will certainly not be out of our depth and we share that belief," maintains Lavery.

His potent midfield partnership with strapping teenager Ben Crealey is one of the main reasons Maghery are still playing championship football at this stage of the year.

Other reasons are the dynamic work-rate of the Forkers, Stefan and Aidan, the stoic defensive work of Ciaran Higgins and Oisin Lappin and the predatory qualities of Steven Fox and Conor Mackle.

The newly-crowned Armagh champions will come up against a Ramor United side that overcame the challenge of Castlerahan at the second attempt to win the Cavan title and will look to Adrian Cole, James McEnroe, Killian Maguire and Jack Brady for inspiration.

Lavery, clearly relishing his side's surge to prominence, concedes that while they face a daunting mission, their spirit and commitment will underpin the drive for further glory.

"We are keen to push on, you could say that we have the bit between our teeth. Obviously Ramor will have taken benefits from their two games against Castlerahan but we know that if we hit form we can give a good account of ourselves and that's what we aim to do," adds Lavery.

Ramor United, though, have shown that they are a robust, uncompromising side who boast a solid defence and the ability to snap up half-chances.

Their biggest challenge tomorrow will be to prove that the two demanding matches against Castlerahan have not impacted adversely on their stamina.

Belfast Telegraph

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