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Rangers getting back to best

 

By John Campbell

When Maghery stripped Crossmaglen Rangers of their long-held Armagh Senior Football Championship crown last year, they certainly disrupted the status quo.

But the south Armagh team's wait to avenge that coup has been shorter than expected. The teams will meet in the championship semi-final tonight when Rangers will bring a marked hunger to the table.

It was in a pulsating final against St Patrick's that Maghery turned the Armagh formbook on its head last year and sparked the theory that Rangers had lost their appetite for success.

But the manner in which Gareth O'Neill's side have responded this term proves that they are still very much in the business of collecting silverware.

For tonight's confrontation at the Athletic Grounds (6.00) they will have many familiar faces on view with Aaron Kernan, Paul Hearty, Michael McNamee, Johnny Hanratty and Paul McKeown to the fore.

For their part Maghery, who have prospered under the capable baton of Shane McConville, will look to Ben Crealey and Aidan Forker to spark their challenge.

Forker was in fine form for Armagh this year and has the ability to fire up his club tonight.

Crealey, who has made it into the Armagh squad but has not started too many matches this year, can prove a pivotal figure at midfield for a Maghery side that will need to get into their stride from the start.

Oisin O'Neill, a nephew of Armagh legend Oisin McConville, is proving a key cog in the Rangers side and is likely to be involved as playmaker tonight in the centre-half-forward berth where he appears most comfortable.

Maghery showed considerable character and resilience last year and will need to show these qualities in abundance if they are to land the title again.

Crossmaglen were clearly rattled last term and lightning does not tend to strike twice.

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