Crossmaglen 2-22 Ballymacnab 0-3: It was all embarrassingly easy for Crossmaglen Rangers. Without ever breaking sweat, they simply glided past a totally outclassed Ballymacnab side to take delivery of their 15th Armagh championship title in sixteen years and their 39th in total at the Morgan Athletic Grounds yesterday.
Rangers in romp|to title success Sealed with a kiss: Winning Captain Stephen Kernan gets a hug from Margaret McConville, mother of Oisin, after Crossmaglen Rangers had eased their way to another Armagh Championship winpresseyeBY john campbell
ARMAGH SENIOR FOOTBALL FINAL
Rangers operated on a totally different planet to their beleaguered opponents, their power, poise and penetration cementing a polished display that underlined their ravenous hunger for more glory despite their unprecedented run of success spanning the past decade-and-a-half.
Long before the end the outcome had been sealed – Ballymacnab did not score from play until the 52nd minute and were eventually beaten by 25 points in what was their first final appearance – with Rangers, sharp and incisive throughout, masters in every area.
They simply cantered through the first half, lording matters at midfield and picking off points almost at will.
Indeed, the Rangers would surely have been over the horizon and well out of sight by the end of the first quarter had Ballymacnab goalkeeper Sean Hughes not made two superb saves from Jamie Clarke and Aaron Cunningham prior to pushing away Stephen Kernan’s 20th minute penalty.
There was to be no real respite for Ballymacnab, though. Michael McNamee and the ever-dangerous Cunningham shared six points with Aaron Kernan piloting over two more from frees and Johnny Hanratty, David McKenna, Tony Kernan and Stephen Kernan all getting on the score sheet as Rangers wielded their authority.
It was not until the 24th minute that Ballymacnab grabbed a crumb of consolation when Rory
Grugan pirated a point from a free but a 0-12 to 0-1 interval deficit fully underlined the vast gulf that existed between the sides, Ballymacnab’s inadequacies glaringly exposed by their opponents’ clinical teamwork and precise finishing.
Within 54 seconds of the start of the second period Aaron Kernan was again on target for the Rangers and this set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Any lingering impression that Ballymacnab might have managed to offer a sliver of resistance was cruelly buried in the 41st minute when substitute Kyle Brennan swept in a superb goal with his first touch of the ball.
And when Johnny Hanratty (pictured) added a second goal four minutes later it merely served to turn a defeat into humiliation for the struggling Ballymacnab outfit.
Surprisingly, Jamie Clarke did not score for the winners but set up several scores and was substituted late in the game with Oisin McConville also coming on from the bench to land a point and thus maintain his incredible record of scoring in every championship match in which he had played.
Crossmaglen Rangers’ joint bosses Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill have been round too many corners, though, to draw false comfort from yesterday’s cakewalk – they know that the real business is only just beginning in the much more demanding Ulster Club championship.
Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; P McKeown, P Kernan, J Morgan; A Kernan (0-5, 0-4 frees), D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan; J Hanratty (1-2), D McKenna (0-1); T Kernan (0-2, 0-1 ‘45’), S Kernan (0-2, 0-1 free), A Cunningham (0-5); J Clarke, F Hanratty (0-1), M McNamee (0-3). Subs: K Brennan (1-0) for McNamee (39 mins), M Lenaghan for Clarke (46), M Aherne for S Finnegan (46), O McConville (0-1 free) for T Kernan (51), R Finnegan for J Hanratty (52).
Ballymacnab: S Hughes; C Loughran (0-1), Dwayne McParland, Dominic McParland; B O’Hare, P Crilly, K Beagan; P Gribben, R Gribben; J Gray, R Grugan (0-2, both frees), J Gribben; B McCone, G McParland, R Kennedy. Subs: G McKee for R Gribben (20 mins), M Beagan for Gray (38), S Kennedy for Dwayne Mcparland (51).
Referee: Michael Leonard (St Peter’s)