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Rangers get into gear for a major title test

By John Campbell

It's the old hands against the new kids on the block, the proud reigning champions against the eager wannabes.

Crossmaglen Rangers have been there and done that so often in terms of winning county, Ulster and All Ireland titles that success has become a way of life for this pulsating club.

Dromore, on the other hand, ended a 74-year wait for the blue riband of Tyrone football when they beat Coalisland in last month's final by a comfortable ten-point margin.

Now they venture into the lion's den against a Crossmaglen side who lately have been concentrating on what they do best - digging themselves out of holes.

Wayward in the first-half against Pearse Og in the first-half of the Armagh final, they slowly turned the screw in the second period to eventually squeeze the life out of their feisty opponents.

Then in their opening engagement in the Ulster Club series they lost a man, missed two penalties, were guilty of numerous transgressions - and still managed to win by a point.

This perhaps represents an ominous warning for Dromore just in the same way that a double-figure win for the Rangers might do.

Put another way, the word defeat is not in the Cross dictionary.

For all that, Dromore will not arrive in St Tiernach's Park, Clones burdened by an inferiority complex on Sunday.

Not after beating Mayobridge in their own back yard last Sunday with a show of grit and skill that should copper-fasten their resolve for this week-end's intimidating mission.

The stunning performance of Shaun O'Neill at full-forward, the craft of Ryan McMenamin, the enterprising youth of Ronan McNabb and Conor O'Neill and the staying power of midfielders Shane McMahon and Mickey Garry all helped to see Dromore over their initial hurdle.

Now they will need these assets and much more if the guile of John and Tony McEntee, the finishing skills of Oisin McConville, the work-rate of the Kernan clan and the sheer tenacity of the Rangers defence as a whole are to be curbed.

The fact that Rangers will be without the suspended John Donaldson and Cathal Short will be a handicap of sorts yet they still appear to have the resources to cope with this shortfall in man-power.

Dromore manager Noel McGinn has done his homework on Rangers and is content to leave it at that. Not for him unnecessary flannel nor pious platitudes in relation to the opposition.

"We have a big job to do on Sunday. And it's right where we want to be," raps McGinn.

You know exactly what he means, of course.

Mind you, when Rangers folk gently remind us that they have a few "injury doubts" you know what they mean, too.

And Dromore will know for sure now to get their guard up even higher!

Belfast Telegraph


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