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Classy Dr Crokes send out a warning to Crossmaglen Rangers

By John Campbell

Armagh and Ulster champions Crossmaglen Rangers have been given a forcible reminder that retaining their All-Ireland club football crown will now become an even more difficult task following the efficient manner in which Dr Crokes overcame UCC by 3-14 to 2-10 in yesterday’s Munster championship final at Killarney.

A power-packed second-half performance sealed Dr Crokes’ All-Ireland semi-final date with Rangers on February 19 after UCC had managed to stay in touch during the opening half.

A Stephen O’Brien goal for UCC in the 18th minute elicited a sharp response from Dr Crokes with Kieran O’Leary and Daithi Casey firing home goals in the 19th and 22nd minutes. Dr Crokes led by 2-4 to 1-6 at half-time and when the magical Colm Cooper cut loose after the break with three superb points as the Kerry side moved into overdrive.

Man of the match Brian Looney underpinned their attacking strategy and his long-range point that eased the side into a 2-10 to 1-9 lead proved the signal for a sustained bout of pressure which was highlighted by an exquisite goal from Casey that put Dr Crokes into an unassailable position.

Crossmaglen joint manager Tony McEntee said afterwards: “We will certainly have our hands full on the evidence of this display by Dr Crokes. We must be on our toes as they are a quality side and they will obviously be very keen to go all the way.”

Meanwhile, former Armagh, Derry, Mayo and Antrim joint manager John Morrison is understood to be making good progress following the stroke he suffered last week. Morrison, who is currently No 2 to Cavan boss Val Andrews, is a patient in Craigavon Hospital. He is expected to be sidelined for some time and has already been the recipient of good wishes from a host of GAA followers.

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Down secretary Sean Og McAteer believes that even more can de done within the county to boost the GAA’s integration policy.

In his annual report, McAteer points out that over 40% of the population of the county has no affinity with the GAA.

“We have to be pro-active, we have to go out to huge areas within the county and promote our games and we have to create the affinity with all of our people,” urges McAteer. “Symbols are often used a measure of why people do not attend our games and I do not demean the fact that in some cases there may be a degree of unease.

“For me though the most positive symbol would be where we reach out and invite people to attend our games.”

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There is considerable relief in GAA circles now that the Republic of Ireland’s opening match against Croatia in the 2012 European Championships is scheduled to kick off at 7.45pm on Sunday, June 10.

Earlier that day Armagh are due to host Tyrone in the Ulster Championship which means that fans will now be able to enjoy two massive sporting occasions.

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