Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Crossmaglen Rangers star McKeown still keen on glory route

Paul McKeown holds a rather unusual distinction in gaelic football.

The diminutive Crossmaglen Rangers player is the holder of two Armagh senior county championship honours - yet he has three Ulster Club Championship medals in his trophy cabinet!

The 21-year-old defender, currently in a rich vein of form, found himself drafted into the Rangers senior squad shortly after exiting the minor arena in 2006 and within weeks was involved in the squad’s preparations for the Ulster Club Championship final against Ballinderry at Casement Park.

“In fact, an Ulster Club medal was the first senior honour I managed to win,” smiles Paul, “I have been very fortunate to get another couple as we beat St Galls in the 2007 final and then overcame Ballinderry again last year.”

But on St Patrick’s Day, Paul, a plumber, will be chasing his biggest prize to date when he lines out with the Rangers against Kilmacud Crokes in the AIB All Ireland club final at Croke Park (4.30).

It was his superb performances in the drawn Ulster final against Ballinderry and in the replay last December that helped to bring the Rangers their fifth Ulster club title to date.

And in last month’s All Ireland Club semi-final against Munster champions Drom-Broadford he was again outstanding.

Now he’s preparing to deal with some of the best forwards in the country when he lines out against fashionable Stillorgan-based Kilmacud, the Dublin and Leinster champions.

“They have players like Dublin’s Mark Vaughan and Longford’s Brian Kavnagah in their attack and we know that they will be very difficult to handle. Besides, they will have plenty of support as this is really a home game for them and all the Dubs fans will be out in force.

“We won’t be short of support ourselves, though, but we know that it will take a supreme effort if we are to get our hands on the All Ireland crown again,” maintains Paul.

His tigerish marking skills, interceptions and overlapping have not surprisingly brought him to the attention of Armagh manager Peter McDonnell.

But the Rangers All Ireland title bid is his only concern.

“That’s my goal - we would like to be the top club in the country again” he smiles.

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