Even All Ireland club champions Crossmaglen Rangers, it seems, are not to be spared the ravages of emigration.
With centre-half-back Danny O’Callaghan having already left to start a new life in Australia, Franny Hanratty will become the second high-profile player from the country’s most successful club side to depart these shores.
Hanratty, too, will head Down Under in his quest for work at a time when Rangers management duo Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill are striving to assemble their strongest-possible side for the forthcoming Armagh championship semi-final.
It was a hard-earned 1-14 to 1-9 win over a gallant Maghery team at the weekend that brought Rangers into the last four but O’Callaghan, Paul McKeown, Oisin McConville, Aaron Cunningham and Jamie Clarke were all missing from their starting line-up.
“We would hope to have Jamie back for the semi-final while McKeown and Cunningham should have recovered from injury but our resources are certainly depleted right now,” admits club spokesman Tom McKay.
Nonetheless, it was the Rangers tenacity and stamina that ultimately stood them in good stead when, after they had been forced to absorb a Maghery revival in the third quarter, they tacked on two late scores to breast the tape ahead of their opponents.
Paul Hughes had scored an early goal that put Rangers in the driving seat and they led by 1-8 to 1-3 at the break but Shea Tennyson, David Lavery and Anthony Nugent pegged them back with points in the second-half before a brace of points from Stephen Kernan and three from Kyle Carragher took Rangers to their five-point victory.
St Patrick’s also advanced in Armagh but had to recover from a 0-9 to 0-3 deficit to pip Culloville, managed by former county star John McEntee, by 2-6 to 0-11 to book their place in the next round.
In the Monaghan senior football championship, Castleblayney held firm to outgun Scotstown by 1-8 to 1-6. When Shane Carey finished a Kieran Hughes free to the net, Scotstown looked to have seized the initiative but thirty seconds later the score was clinically cancelled out when Ryan Tracey fisted home a ’Blayney goal.
A point from a ‘45’ by goalkeeper Pauric McNally and further fine finishing from Tracey highlighted the ’Blayney victory.
Latton, too, advanced in Monaghan beating Currin by 0-14 to 1-9 with big performances from Hugh McElroy, Eoin Lennon and Owen Duffy highlighting their display.
There was a massive shock in the Cavan Championship when
Killygarry beat odds-on title favourites Cavan Gaels by 0-10 to 0-9 in a thrilling tie.
In a match in which Declan Meehan received a red card which did not help the Gaels’ cause, Donal Thomas and Aidan McGovern were outstanding for the winners.
Kingscourt Stars showed they mean business too in the Cavan championship when they overcame Drumgoon by 1-13 to 0-10 having led by 1-8 to 0-2 at the break.
Philip Smith scored the only goal of the game after six minutes while Barry Reilly proved a hot-shot in the winners’ attack.
Mullahoran also booked a place in the semi-finals when they beat Ballinagh by 0-11 to 1-6 with World handball champion Paul Brady once again their leading light.
In the All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football semi-final, Armagh took their inspiration from midfielder Caroline O’Hanlon, a doctor based at Belfast City Hospital, in chiselling out a fine 3-9 to 1-6 victory over Longford.
Armagh, who showed impressive form in winning the Ulster title, now go into their first national decider since 2006 having come down from senior level this year but their chances of regaining this latter status have now been considerably enhanced.