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Armagh Senior Football Championship: Tasker hero and villain as St Patrick’s secure replay

By John Campbell

Crossmaglen Rangers are still on course to retrieve the Armagh senior football championship title they surrendered to Pearse Og last year — but only just.

In last night’s semi-final the Rangers, despite scoring 1-14, came perilously close to exiting the competition against St Patrick’s (Cullyhanna) who compiled 2-11 to earn a replay.

The Rangers looked to be in the driving seat at half-time when they led by 1-9 to 0-7, Stephen Kernan having pocketed their goal which he complemented with a brace of points while Aaron Cunningam fired over three.

Even without Oisin McConville and with veteran Francie Bellew on the bench, Rangers still looked a cohesive, potent unit, but in a five-minute spell immediately on the resumption Robbie Tasker and Tony Donnelly pounced for opportunist goals that propelled St Patrick’s into a one-point lead (2-7 to 1-19) and from then on it was nip and tuck.

Rangers forward Jamie Clarke then received his marching orders, as did St Patrick’s Tasker.

Bellew was introduced to stabilise the Rangers, but even though Cunningham sent over two more points, Ciaran McKeever and Malachy Mackin provided the dynamic that helped St Patrick’s keep going until the end.

In the other semi-final Dromintee carried too much power and experience for Granemore even though they played for the entire second-half with fourteen men following the dismissal of Shane Carroll.

Dromintee’s victory owed much to the finishing of Ollie Gaughran who helped himself to 1-4, his goal underlining his side’s dominance after the teams had been level at 0-5 each at the break.

Granemore midfield ace Kieran Toner worked hard in a bid to to galvanise his side, but apart from Chris O’Connor who landed three points their attack was unable to make any real headway.

Dromintee had come close in recent years to breaking the monopoly which Crossmaglen Rangers held on the Armagh title before Pearse Og eventually accomplished this feat last year and now they will be keen to go the full distance this year although they will need to show a further step-up on their semi-final form.

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