Crossmaglen Rangers joined by tough trio in semi-finals
Published 16/09/2013 | 01:30
In surging to wins in their Armagh senior football championship quarter-finals, Maghery, St Patrick's and Ballymacnab sustained their collective belief that they might just offer a viable threat to perennial champions Crossmaglen Rangers.
Maghery revealed a cohesion and cutting edge in disposing of Carrickcruppen that could stand to them in the semi-finals.
Their 1-11 to 0-5 victory owed much to Conor Forker's opportunist goal and their ability to carve out second-phase possession in the central area.
And St Patrick's can take satisfaction from their hard-earned 2-12 to 1-11 win over a gallant Sarsfields outfit.
The Mackins, Malachy and Gareth, struck home the winners' goals with the former deploying his experience to good effect alongside Armagh county skipper Ciaran McKeever who scored three fine points from play.
Ballymacnab proved superior to near neighbours Granemore in a local derby that attracted 4,000 fans and provided a pulsating contest even if it was perhaps short on overall quality.
Ballymacnab's 1-8 to 0-7 victory was fashioned via their ability to switch play cleverly on occasions, never more so than when Rory Gragan took a deft pass from his brother Jack to tuck away the only goal of the tie.
With Caolan Rafferty forced to come outfield to bolster their midfield area following a knock suffered by Kieran Toner, Granemore's attack lost some of its bite.
Three points in quick succession in the second-half from their best forward Rory Grugan (2) and inspirational skipper Brian McComble hoisted Ballymacnab into a more comfortable lead and they held the initiative until the final whistle.
Crosmaglen Rangers, meanwhile, flashed out the message that a 17th title in 18 years is within their gambit when they beat Pearse Og by 2-11 to 0-7.
With David McKenna back, manager Joe Kernan now has an interesting option at midfield as he prepares for the semi-finals.
Kernan still expects to be without Ronan Finnegan, James Morgan, Paul Kernan and Jamie Clarke but he would appear to have adequate resources to keep his team's title bid on track.