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Crossmaglen Rangers 0-04 Pearse Og 0-07

By John Campbell

Five All Ireland Club titles, eight Ulster Club Championship crowns and thirteen Armagh county accolades on the trot.

These stunning statistics encapsulate a reign of dominance that is unlikely to be repeated in the GAA sphere for a long, long time to come and will most certainly guarantee the Crossmaglen Rangers squads that brought such unparalleled glory to their club sporting immortality.

Now for the first time since 1996, the Rangers will not be involved in the closing stages of the Armagh championship nor will their name adorn the line-up for the Ulster Club Championship after a 0-7 to 0-4 defeat at the hands of Pearse Og.

Manager Donal Murtagh, though, is refusing to wallow in excuses and recriminations despite the strangely indifferent display of his side.

“All good things come to an end and we have to accept that,” mused a disappointed Murtagh, “We like to think that we have now gone out of the championship with dignity, beaten by a better team. Obviously we have things to think about, but this is certainly not the time for hasty decisions.”

Murtagh, having shared in Rangers glory as a player, needed no reminding of his team’s shortcomings against an Ogs side that played above and beyond the call of duty.

“They were more hungry, they restricted us up front and they took their chances whereas we did not,” he added.

The McEntee twins John and Tony, Francie Bellew, John Donaldson and Oisin McConville look set to call time on their Rangers careers now while manager Murtagh may also step aside.

This is all in rather sharp contrast to the optimism, bonhomie and fresh surge of pride that has engulfed the Pearse Og club, but manager Brendan Hughes is adamant that his players will be keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

“It’s great to get a win over Rangers who have been wonderful ambassadors, but I see no sign of silverware yet. There is a long journey ahead of us — we hope,” said Hughes pointedly.

And chairman Gerry Davidson, one of the five-man committee tasked with finding the successor to Peter McDonnell as the new Armagh manager, has made it clear that the title would be particularly welcome in the Pearse Og club this year.

“Early in the summer we formally opened our new ground and it would be great if we could win the county championship,” said Davidson.

“There are a number of very good sides still in there — we will certainly not be getting carried away.”

Belfast Telegraph


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