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The perfect moment for rampant Rangers

Crossmaglen 2-17 Scotstown 2-12

By Declan Bogue

Published 30/11/2015

Just champions: Crossmaglen Rangers celebrate their Ulster title victory
Just champions: Crossmaglen Rangers celebrate their Ulster title victory

Eleven times now Crossmaglen have been in the Ulster club final, and each time they have taken the Seamus McFerran Cup back to the square in their village.

Few of them have been won by going through the hardship they encountered against Scotstown. Drenched by the billows blowing over the Athletic Grounds, they rode their luck at the end of normal time with Scotstown spurning chances to win, to recover discipline and shape to win this astonishing game in injury time.

Cross know how close they came to defeat when Aaron Kernan fouled the unmarkable Darren Hughes, two minutes into injury time. Goalkeeper Rory Beggan ambled upfield and took his time at a kick that was difficult, but not impossible. He kicked into the teeth of what was left of Storm Clodagh, but it dropped short.

For extra-time, Cross went back to their full complement of players, Danny O'Callaghan being red-carded for an exchange with James Turley three minutes after he came on.

"We sort of lost our shape at that stage, we had lost who we were picking up," admitted joint-manager Oisin McConville (right).

"Believe it or not, we had tried to get a man back to play at centre-half back at that stage and we didn't even get him back.

"So we were clinging on right at the end and it is very, very difficult to get messages on."

Normal time ended with the teams tied at 1-10 each. Five minutes into extra-time, and with the teams still level, disaster struck for Scotstown when Kieran Hughes received a straight red card - perhaps harshly - for a high challenge on Johnny Murtagh.

"It was a huge turning point in the game," Scotstown manager Mattie McGleenan noted. "There's no doubt about it because 14 men against Crossmaglen, in extra time, it is a tough ask."

From that point on, Cross outscored their rivals 1-6 to 1-1. Jamie Clarke - on as a sub in the second half - was playing as if he had never been away and one knifing run brought him through the heart of the Scotstown defence, he was taken out of it by Padraig Keenan but dished off to David McKenna who was blocked down.

The decisive score landed with six minutes remaining. Cross had just gone two points clear when Beggan butchered a kickout and Clarke prised an opening, shuttling the ball across goal to Kyle Carragher who topped a fine individual performance by thumping to the net.

By the end of this marathon contest, Scotstown had 38 frees awarded to them. A fair chunk of that tally were committed by James Morgan while he struggled in his marking duties of Darren Hughes, who latched onto a long Donal Morgan delivery after nine minutes to put a bobbling shot underneath Paul Hearty to the net.

The Monaghan man was the standout performer throughout, even though Tony Kernan's coolness with the dead ball brought five converted frees. He also landed a reply to Hughes' three pointer.

Kieran Hughes showed too much of the ball to Martin Aherne. It was turned over and arrived with Kernan who planted a shot across Beggan to gain the lead just before half-time, another converted free by Kernan making it 1-6 to 1-3 at half-time.

McConville reflected: "It was some battle. In some ways it was good to watch, in others, maybe it wasn't."

Indeed, McConville was an animated figure at times, reprimanding referee Cassidy as he left the pitch on occasion about the various flashpoints that were breaking out in different areas of the field.

A game that had taken many twists and turns took yet another after Carragher's goal, when substitute Brian McGinnity was presented with a chance and with two minutes of extra time left, finished to the net, via a goalpost.

Hopes of a late Scotstown revival were dashed with late points from the Kernan brothers, Tony and a free-kick from Aaron.

The usual celebrations were had in south Armagh on Sunday night. They now face Castlebar Mitchells on Saturday, February 13. With Nemo Rangers losing to Clonmel Commercials in the Munster final, who would bet against them equalling the Cork sides record of seven All-Ireland titles on St Patrick's Day?

CROSSMAGLEN: P Hearty; A Rushe, J Morgan, P Hughes; A Kernan 0-1, f, M Aherne, P McKeown; J Hanratty, R Kelly; S Kernan 0-1, M McNamee 0-1, T Kernan 1-6, 5f; O O'Neill, J Murtagh 0-3, K Carragher 1-2, 1f

Subs: D McKenna 0-1 for Hanratty (ht), S Finnegan for Rushe (36), J Clarke for O'Neill (40), C Cumiskey 0-1 for Kelly (45), D O'Callaghan for Aherne (50), A Cunningham for M McNamee (53), P Studdard 0-1 replaced D O'Callaghan at the beginning of extra-time, G Carragher for Cunningham (ft), K Brennan for Murtagh (70), D McConville for S Kernan (74), A Cunningham for Carragher (76).

Yellow cards: S Kernan (15m) Murtagh (33m), Morgan (43m, 62, 80), A Kernan (53m), T Kernan (54m), Cunningham (60m), Cumiskey (69m)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: D O'Callaghan (55m), J Morgan (80m)

SCOTSTOWN: R Beggan 0-1 f; M Duffy, K Hughes, P Keenan; E Caulfield 0-1, D McArdle, F McPhilips; F Caulfield, J Turley; D Morgan 0-1, S Carey 0-6, 5f, R McKenna; C McCarthy 0-2, 1f, D Hughes 1-0, O Heaphey 0-1

Subs: B Boylan for McPhillips (31), D McCague for McKenna (43), B McGinnity for Heaphey (48), B McMeel for E Caulfield (76), D McNally for McArdle (78).

Yellow cards: F Caulfield (40m)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: K Hughes (65m), D Hughes (80m)

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

Attendance: 8,694

Belfast Telegraph

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