Rampant Crossmaglen Rangers run riot against Armagh Harps
Crossmaglen 2-22 Armagh Harps 0-10
They may have charted a rocky road into yesterday's Armagh senior football championship final but on the big stage Crossmaglen Rangers truly performed as only they can.
In surging to their 19th domestic title in 20 years at a mute Athletic Grounds, the Rangers not only further cemented their dominance of a competition which has borne their imprimatur for so long but gave more than a hint that they are in the rude health for the forthcoming Ulster Club Championship.
Joint manager Oisin McConville, though, is taking nothing for granted as the 'business as usual' sign goes up at a period of the year during which the vast majority of the clubs in the country are deep in hibernation. "It's great to get another Armagh title but I suppose you could say that we have raised the bar for ourselves with the passage of time," said McConville.
"We certainly will never become blase about winning titles of whatever hue. They are there to be cherished as far as we are concerned." When Rico Kelly tucked away the Rangers first goal in the 28th minute, he brought the curtain down on the match as a competitive affair.
That goal sent the south Armagh side in with a 1-10 to 0-5 half-time lead and the guillotine had already fallen on Harps' hopes of making amends for the humiliation they suffered in last year's final.
With David McKenna imposing at midfield and Tony Kernan, Kyle Carragher, and Michael McNamee on fire up front, Rangers piled on the pressure particularly in the aftermath of McKenna's superbly-taken 43rd minute goal.
In all, Harps managed just five scores from play over the course of the game and might well have fallen by an even heavier margin had Rangers not spurned a series of scoring chances.
They finished the match strongly, though, their rampant attack virtually queuing up to pick off points against a totally demoralised Harps outfit that failed to respond to the promptings of their skipper Gareth Swift who landed five points from frees.
Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; P Hughes 0-2, A Rushe, P McKeown; S Finnegan, M Aherne 0-2, J Morgan; J Hanratty 0-1, D McKenna 1-1; M McNamee 0-4 (1f), S Kernan 0-1, T Kernan 0-5 (2 '45's, 2f); J Murtagh, R Kelly 1-1, K Carragher 0-4. Subs: O O'Neill 0-1 for Rushe (h/t), D McConville for McKenna (45), G Carragher for Kelly (50), D O'Callaghan for Morgan (54), S Farrelly for Hughes (55). A Cunningham for Hanaratty (Black card 37).
Armagh Harps: P Morrison; C McKee, M McCoy, M McConville; K Loughran 0-1, C White, J McElroy; C Vernon, D McKenna 0-1; R McShane 0-1, P Kelly, C Stevenson; U Lennon 0-2, G Swift 0-5 ( all frees) , C Coulter. Subs: R McGrath for McCoy, C Murphy for Stevenson (both h/t), P Campbell for Kelly (35), S Grimley for Lennon (45), S McCoy for Coulter (57).
Referee: Oliver Hearty (Belleeks)