Crossmaglen sextet on trail of even more medals
Six young Crossmaglen Rangers players are bidding to stay on the medal trail until the sun sets on 2006.
Paul Kernan, Martin Ahern, Tony Kernan, John Hanratty, Ryan Carragher and David McKenna were all members of the squad that won both the Armagh senior football championship title and the AIB Ulster Club crown.
Now the sextet have another honour in their sights - an Armagh U21 football championship medal.
Still teenagers, the players have made a huge impact this year - so much so in fact that Rangers manager Donal Murtagh hailed Paul Kernan, McKenna and Hanratty in particular as "true heroes" when the Rangers beat Ballinderry Shamrocks in the Ulster Club final.
They were in the Crossmaglen side that ended the ambitions of Silverbridge in the Armagh U21 championship at the quarter-final stage at the week-end.
Rangers PRO Tom McKay believes that the form displayed by the players and their commitment at this late stage of the year underlines just why the Rangers have achieved so much success.
"To think that these boys are still going strong in Christmas week speaks for itself. They have a tremendous appetite for the game and can't get enough football," says McKay.
Paul and Tony Kernan are sons of Armagh manager Joe Kernan and brothers of Aaron and Stephen who are established members of the Armagh county squad.
Paul's performance in the Ulster Club final saw him edge a little closer to a county call-up but right now manager Murtagh is totally focussed on ensuring that he has a full strength panel on duty for the All Ireland Club semi-final against Connacht champions St Brigid's (Roscommon) in February.
"The fact that these young guys are coming through so well is helping to keep the more established players on their toes and that's a good thing. It's great to see this happening because it means that we can look forward to the future with so much more confidence," says Murtagh.