Joe Kernan: Classy Crossmaglen Rangers shouldn’t rest on their laurels
It seems that some people are getting fed up looking at Crossmaglen Rangers lifting trophies — and that to my mind is the greatest compliment which can be paid to the club.
Since 1996 the Rangers have won fifteen Armagh championship titles, nine Ulster crowns and five All-Ireland accolades — a track record that is unlikely to be surpassed by any other club in the future.
I would much prefer folk to hate Rangers for their success rather than feel sorry for them for their misfortunes.
I never thought for one moment when people like Donal McKenna, Oliver McEntee and me came together in 1996 to form a management team that we would trigger a litany of triumphs which has continued until the present day.
We take great satisfaction in having established that legacy and it’s highly satisfying to note that other management teams within the club have since proven equally if not more successful.
And the indications are that there is more glory to come.
Crossmaglen are already being thrust into the favourites’ role for the All-Ireland club title but I would sound a note of caution here given the quality of some of the sides that remain in the frame for the much-coveted national crown including Connacht champions St Brigid’s and the Munster ‘big two’ Dr Crokes and UCC.
Obviously people are prepared to come out and pay to watch Crossmaglen in action.
The crowd at the Ulster club final on Sunday was 8,624 — how many National League games will attract such a number of fans when the action gets under way in early February?
To be fair, there was a sizeable representation of Derrytresk and Cremartin supporters in the Morgan Athletic Grounds too to cheer their teams on in the Ulster club junior final.
There were 7,000 fans, too, at the Crossmaglen v Ballinderry Ulster club semi-final at Casement Park and just to show that the Rangers do not hold the monopoly on high attendances, 4000-plus fans flocked to Healy Park on a foul night to see Craigbane beat Culloville in the Ulster Club Intermediate final, albeit in somewhat controversial circumstances.
These figures surely provide evidence that club football is in a healthy state in the province.