Crossmaglen Rangers manager Donal Murtagh has scotched rumours that there could be wholesale retirements following the team’s failure to land the coveted AIB All Ireland Club football title.
In losing to Kilmacud Crokes on St Patrick’s Day, Rangers forfeited their prospects of landing what would have been a fifth national crown.
But even though several players including skipper John Donaldson, Oisin McConville, the McEntee twins John and Tony, Francie Bellew and Cathal Short are in their 30’s, there is no indication that any of them will stand down - at this point in time anyway.
Manager Murtagh, clearly devastated after his side’s below-par offering against the Dublin and Leinster champions, has not only been attempting to defuse speculation on possible retirements but has already emphasised that fresh goals for the remainder of this year have been firmly established.
“This is still a great club and we have set out our new targets. Obviously we are gutted to have lost but life must go on. We have a lot of good young players in the squad now but the more senior players still have a lot to offer and I have no doubt that they will want to continue to serve the team,” insists Murtagh.
Any thoughts that the Rangers faithful might have been demoralised following the team’s setback were diluted when the players were enthusiastically feted on their return to Crossmaglen.
Club spokesman Tom McKay said: “After a defeat like that, you are always worried that fans might be lukewarm in their reaction, to put it mildly.
“But when we returned to Crossmaglen, the people packed into our hall to show their support and goodwill towards the players.
“They knew they had done their best but had been beaten by a better team on the day. This will make us all the more determined to try and go the full distance next year.
“It was a big disappointment on Tuesday surely but at the end of the day, nobody died.
“There are much bigger problems afflicting society at the moment as we all know and we must make sure that we keep a sense of perspective. You can take it that Crossmaglen Rangers will be back just the same - and very soonat that too.”