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Oisin McConville is Crossmaglen Rangers boss as Joe Kernan exits

By John Campbell

Joe Kernan has dropped a pre-Christmas bombshell on Crossmaglen Rangers by stepping down as team manager.

It was back in March that Kernan took over the reins from Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill for his second term in charge and while it was indicated that he might only stay for one year, hopes were high that he might extend his tenure.

But a combination of business and family reasons has persuaded Kernan to step aside from his sideline role with the club to which he has helped to bring unparalleled success since the mid-90s.

And just as they do on the field of play, the Rangers have not allowed the grass to grow under their feet in relation to appointing a new management team.

Late last night it was confirmed that two of the club's greatest-ever players, Oisin McConville and John McEntee, will take over at the helm with immediate effect.

Both were cornerstones of the Armagh side that won the All Ireland title in 2002 when Kernan was in charge and have earned a catalogue of honours in the Rangers colours.

Kernan previously served as Rangers boss between 1993 and 2000 and enjoyed great success as he steered the club to four Armagh county senior titles, three Ulster senior club titles and three All-Ireland club titles.

Indeed, the county triumph in 1996 was the club's first in 11 years and that was the start of a four-in-a-row in Armagh under Kernan's watch.

He guided them to their maiden All-Ireland title on St Patrick's Day 1997 against Mayo outfit Knockmore.

Club secretary Gerard Rushe paid a glowing tribute to Kernan's efforts over the course of the past year.

"Joe came in and did an excellent job with depleted resources. Several of our first-choice players have been unavailable but we still managed to win the Armagh title and make a decent fist of the Ulster club series before losing to Kilcoo after a replay," said Rushe.

"We are indeed fortunate that Oisin McConville and John McEntee have agreed to form our new management team. They have been iconic players for us and we have no doubt that they can lead the club to more glory."

McConville, who has provided a helping hand to several clubs in a coaching capacity and who has served as Director of Football at Dundalk Institute of Technology, acknowledges that the task of keeping Crossmaglen Rangers to the fore will not be easy.

"However, we have a number of exciting new young players coming through and they, in tandem with our more experienced campaigners, could maybe help to bring us more silverware," he said.

Kernan will not be lost to the club, though. He will fill the role of vice-chairman and his leadership, commitment and charisma are calculated to bring fresh dynamism to the committee room.

Secretary Rushe added: "It's great that Joe will be on board our administrative set-up. He has a wealth of football knowledge and obviously we will continue to benefit from this.

"He made big sacrifices on the business and personal fronts this year to steer the side to the closing stages of the Ulster series and we are very grateful to him for all his efforts.

"He is a Rangers man through and through and he has certainly left a wonderful legacy in a managerial sense."

Belfast Telegraph


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