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Maghery boss hails 'incredible' victory over Crossmaglen as goal rush paves way to Armagh title

Crossmaglen Rangers 0-17 Maghery 4-9

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Joy day: Ectstatic Maghery players bask in the glory of seeing off Crossmaglen

Joy day: Ectstatic Maghery players bask in the glory of seeing off Crossmaglen

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Goal-den boy: Aidan Forker

Goal-den boy: Aidan Forker

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Joy day: Ectstatic Maghery players bask in the glory of seeing off Crossmaglen

Crossmaglen Rangers may be one of the most storied clubs in the history of the GAA but yesterday they were forced to bow the knee to an inspired Maghery side that lifted the Armagh Senior Championship title for the second time in five years.

In a throbbing, tension-laden encounter at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, Maghery's inherent skill, courage and character paved the way for their return to the Orchard County throne.

They may have made life difficult for themselves on occasions but they never lost their impetus or momentum as they stuck grimly to their task.

In the superb Aidan Forker they provided the man of the match following his spectacular second-half performance in particular during which he posed ceaseless headaches for the Rangers' defence.

The reigning champions were rocked as early as the fifth minute when a scintillating Maghery movement that ripped the Rangers defence assunder culminated in right-half-back Brendan Haveron thundering home a spectacular goal.

Stephen Kernan's side responded by laying siege to the Maghery posts and a seven-minute blitz yielded a brace of points from each of the O'Neill brothers, Rian and Oisin, before the impressive Stephen Cusack pilfered a point for the title challengers.

But as the game unfurled it became increasingly clear that Crossmaglen held the whip hand in midfield with Rian O'Neill filling a more outfield role as he plundered a rich harvest of possession.This was turned into a string of points with O'Neill himself sharing the scoring honours along with brother Oisin with Tony Kernan, as the champions moved into a 0-10 to 1-3 lead.

But when Brian Fox crashed home Maghery's second goal just before half-time this provided his side with a fresh injection of self-belief.

Trailing by 0-11 to 2-3 at the break, Maghery still nonetheless looked vulnerable but when the Forker brothers Aidan and Stefan along with Gerard Campbell swept over three points immediately on the re-start it was the beginning of the end for Rangers.

And it was Aidan Forker who set Maghery on their victory march with a stunning 37th minute goal yet this was nothing to the heartache Rangers suffered when Ronan Lappin fisted in a fourth Maghery goal three minutes later.

In a fraught finish, Maghery held their nerve although they had Stephen Fox and Aidan Forker dismissed.

But it mattered not. Maghery had already been transported to a sporting paradise and even though there is no Ulster club championship to look forward to, yesterday's victory will always remain as truly historic occasion in the annals of the lough shore club.

Manager Finian Moriarty was understandably in seventh heaven at the end.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of my players," declared Moriarty, "They gave it everything. To beat a team of the stature of Crossmaglen Rangers in a final like this is an incredible feat."

Scorers for Maghery: Aidan Forker 1-3 (1f), B Fox 1-0, B Heavron 1-0, R Lappin 1-0, S Cusack 0-3, S Forker 0-2, G Campbell 0-1.

Scorers for Crossmaglen: O O'Neill 0-6 (2f), T Kernan 0-4 (1f), R O'Neill 0-3 (2f), C McConville 0-2 (2f), D O'Callaghan (0-2).

Belfast Telegraph