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More title joy will prove we deserve to be on the elite stage: Forker

 

By John Campbell

Last year, when Maghery became only the second team in 20 years to disrupt Crossmaglen Rangers' dominance of the Armagh Senior Football Championship, they little dreamt that they would be rubbing shoulders with sides which have rewritten the record books within their respective counties.

With Kilcoo having garnered six successive title triumphs in Down, Slaughtneil having taken delivery of their fourth Derry crown on the bounce, Derrygonnelly reigning supreme in Fermanagh for the third year on the trot and Cargin still in the frame to make it a hat-trick of accolades in Antrim, Maghery find themselves in elite company.

But far from being overawed by their new-found environment, the loughshore club, who face Armagh Harps in the Orchard County decider on Sunday week, enthusiastically embrace the challenge of linking up with august company.

And long-serving utility player Aidan Forker is quick to play down the belief in some quarters that last season's title coup was a flash in the pan.

"Crossmaglen Rangers have been the kingpins of Armagh football for a long time but we have beaten them twice this year, so that augers well for the future for us, although I think the Rangers will come back stronger," insisted Forker.

"Our whole focus now is on the upcoming final against Armagh Harps. That win over Crossmaglen at the weekend is one of the best we have ever had. This Maghery team is a closely-knit unit which boasts a great spirit and trains very hard. We got nothing more than we deserved in our semi-final win."

But while delighted that his side are now in the frame to retain their title, Forker recognises that they can at times prove the authors of their own misfortune.

"We don't tend to make life easy for ourselves," he conceded. "I watched the video of last year's final just recently and we were really, really poor in terms of taking our chances. Over the course of a game, though, things tend to balance themselves out."

In confounding the critics last year, Maghery raised the bar for themselves, and if there is a feeling within the club that they were not accorded due respect for what they achieved, then Forker believes they can win over the doubters by retaining the title this time round.

"It will be a different challenge against Harps because last year we watched the semi-final thinking we were going to be meeting Crossmaglen but when they were put out by St Patrick's we had to re-jig our mind-set," explained Forker.

"We knew if we put on a good performance in the final we would not be far away and that's how it turned out.

"For a wee club like ours to be hoping to get into the company of teams that are consistently successful is just massive. Maybe we do not get the credit we deserve but we will continue to raise the bar for ourselves."

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