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We must start winning titles says Cross boss McConville

By Declan Bogue

Crossmaglen joint-manager Oisín McConville has proclaimed this Sunday's county final against Armagh Harps (Sunday, Athletic Grounds, 4pm) as a means to "get where we want to be," namely in contention for Ulster club and All-Ireland honours.

They meet the Harps in a repeat of last year's decider - which Cross romped home by 17 points in - and they felt that the lack of challenge domestically counted against them after they were dumped out of the Ulster series by Omagh St Enda's.

"It's a very obvious thing to say, but we have to win a county title to get to where we want to be, and where we want to be is Ulster champions again," said the two-time All-Star.

"The challenge we talk about in the changing rooms is, are we good enough to be that? And that question has been answered over the last number of years, in that we are not."

After defeat to Omagh, McConville said they needed to be playing better in October. He maintains that it is a similar story this year, and outsiders could cite Jamie Clarke's extended absence, along with Aaron Kernan's injury in the semi-final as reasons that Cross might be blunted.

He said: "We wanted to be going better earlier. But anyone who has seen us this year would realise, we are not playing well.

"We have had lots of injuries, we have a lot of excuses. But I think the big thing for us is that we have still been winning games."

That happy knack has the Rangers unbeaten all year in the league, two points behind Cullyhanna but with a game in hand.

On Friday night, Cross observed the time honoured traditions that have brought them 19 of the last 20 Gerry Fagan Cups. They will sit down in the clubrooms and write up the opposition on a board, discuss their threats, before wiping them out and enjoying some tea and cream buns.

"Yeah the buns are still on the go," quips McConville when asked of the unorthodox preparation.

"I really fear for the manager who comes in and dispenses of that tradition. Boys love that. I have to say the manager enjoys it as well. The nights before a Championship game probably wouldn't be the same.

"We still write the team up, do the opposition team up on the board and take them down before we go home. And then we concentrate on ourselves."

Such an extraordinary run in any competition requires a youth system that is the envy of every other club in the country.

You never, ever hear of a 'rebuilding project' in Cross, for a simple reason, McConville maintains. "We are always adding one or two to the team. In our case this year we added eight minors to the set-up. I think the challenge at the minute is have we got the players at the minute to go on and challenge for an Ulster title?

"That sounds strange from someone who is in a county final at the weekend, but we do realise that it is all part of it. It's our ticket into the Ulster Championship at the weekend."

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