Crossmaglen in bittersweet fixture switch
Crossmaglen Rangers have been spared from what one official has described as “a physical impossibility” now that their All Ireland Club football championship quarter-final against British champions Neasdon Gaels has been put on hold until the New Year.
The newly-crowned Ulster club champions had feared that they might still have to make the journey to London this weekend to fulfil this fixture as the GAA authorities had initially indicated their desire to see it staged before Christmas.
But with the twice-postponed Ulster final eventually being decided on Sunday, it has now been agreed to carry the All-Ireland tie over into January — and that provides the Rangers with bitter-sweet feelings.
Secretary Gerard Rush explains: “Obviously the players will be delighted to get a breather following what was a physically demanding game on Sunday but we may now be without Oisin McConville against Neasdon Gaels as he is due to get married in January.
“To be honest, it would have been a physical impossibility to have been starting yesterday to try and book suitable flights for our players, officials and supporters to London in what is a very busy weekend for air travel anyway.
“We could not make any moves in this direction until the result against Naomh Conaill was known, of course.”
The absence of the vastly experienced McConville could prove a handicap to the Rangers even though they will start as clear favourites to beat Neasdon Gaels.
Rangers PRO Tom McKay highlights the fact that McConville has arguably been in the best form of his club career this year.
“Look at what he did for us on Sunday — he landed 1-4 and some of his scores were just phenomenal. He’s thirty-five years of age but he is playing like a sixteen-year-old. Maybe he does not have the legs he once had but there’s no sharper football brain in Ulster football,” insists McKay.
McConville and his Rangers team mates were piped into their plush headquarters for a night of celebrations on Sunday.
“This is something of a tradition now when we win the Ulster title – and we’ve lifted this eight times since the late 90’s,” beams McKay, “When you hear the skirl of the pipes in Crosmaglen you know that silverware is at hand again!”