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Fans are the winners in final link-up

By John Campbell

A novel bond of co-operation between two county boards means that thousands of followers will now have the opportunity to see two of the most attractive club games in Ulster this year.

Officials from Down and Armagh agreed some time ago that the dates of their respective county football finals should be staggered so that fans would have a chance to see both matches.

The upshot is that Burren will put their Mourne title on the line against challengers Clonduff under floodlights on Saturday, October 15 in Pairc Esler Newry while on the following day All-Ireland club champions Crossmaglen Rangers will take on surprise packet Ballymacnab in the Armagh decider at the Morgan Athletic Grounds.

The Burren v Clonduff clash is expected to attract upwards on 8,000 fans while a 5,000-strong gallery is expected for the orchard county showpiece.

Down chairman Seamus Walsh confirmed last night that there has been widespread enthusiasm for the arrangements within both counties.

He said: "Obviously people in the south Armagh area and indeed many people in Newry itself follow both Down and Armagh football very closely and they will now have a chance to see both finals."

There is of course considerable speculation that Burren and Crossmaaglen could find themselves in the Ulster club championship again, a competition in which Burren gave the Armagh champions a rare fright last year before going under.

But Armagh county board spokesman Joe Jordan stresses that fans should look no further than the two deciders.

"I think we have a feast of football coming up with these two finals. You are looking at some of the best players in Ulster being involved," said Jordan.

And he makes the point that the actual settings for the games will prove a magnet for fans.

Meanwhile, Liam Watson will focus strongly on Loughgiel's bid to land the Ulster club title now that he is back in a scoring groove.

Watson scored 1-6 in Sunday's Antrim final win over Cushendall having returned from suspension and is now primed for action against the winners of the Derry decider between Dungiven Kevin Lynch's and Lavey which is scheduled for this weekend.

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