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Maghery and Cross braced for punishment after Athletic Grounds melee

 

By Declan Bogue

Maghery's management are nervously awaiting the contents of referee Kevin Faloon's report regarding their Armagh Championship semi-final win over Crossmaglen on Saturday.

Last year's first-time Armagh champions have a county final to look forward to against Armagh Harps - the losing finalists in 2014 and 2015 - but will want to avoid any suspensions arising if players are named as contributing to an ugly melee that greeted the final whistle of their 2-13 to 0-16 Athletic Grounds win.

Players from both sides, along with members of the backroom and indeed some supporters, got caught up in the fracas that took the shine off an entertaining encounter.

Crossmaglen's Armagh corner-back Paul Hughes received a red card after the match according to local sources, which could keep him out of the first round of Championship matches next year.

This is the first time Cross have failed to reach a final in consecutive years since 1994-95.

With Armagh Championship games being recorded by 'Armagh TV', along with some widespread footage from a fan in the stands circulating since the weekend, it would seem likely a financial penalty could be on its way to both clubs.

Such a punishment is becoming familiar to Crossmaglen, who were slapped with a €1,500 fine arising out of incidents in the closing stages of their All-Ireland Club semi-final defeat to Castlebar Mitchells in February 2016.

Rangers were also in the spotlight a few months prior when a Cargin player claimed he had been bitten by a Crossmaglen opponent during an Ulster Club Championship fixture.

Aidan Forker, who thrived at full-forward in Saturday's Athletic Grounds victory, hailed it as "up there with the best wins of his career".

"We played with great spirit," enthused teacher Forker.

"Crossmaglen have dominated Armagh football for the last number of years. We beat them twice this year and hopefully there's a good future for us but they'll come back strong.

"We don't make it easy for ourselves. In the first five minutes we missed 1-3. We did that last year in the final. I watched the final recently and we were really, really poor but it gives us something to work on for the final."

The final takes place on October 15, with the county representatives going on to face Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly Harps thereafter.

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