Ulster Club Championship: Crossmaglen Rangers squeeze through to final
Burren 2-7 Crossmaglen Rgs 1-11: It was much too close for comfort as Armagh champions Crossmaglen Rangers booked their place in the AIB Ulster club football final against Glenties on Sunday week.
Struggle: Crossmaglen’s Danny O'Callaghan taking on Burren’s James McGovern in a tense encounter
Admitting a draw would have been a fair result, a relieved Rangers joint manager Tony McEntee said: “Normally playing 20 minutes football isn’t enough to win you a championship match so we were fortunate in that regard.
“We had an excellent first 20 minutes during which we did so many things right, but then we stopped.
“I’m delighted to have won, but I wouldn’t be satisfied with the manner of our victory. When we led at one stage in the first half |1-7 to two points we were comfortable, but then we stopped playing as a team and consequently we were guilty to far too many stupid mistakes.
“It was a similar story on the restart and in fairness to Burren they played some decent football. To be honest it should have been a draw. Kevin McKernan had a great chance to level the match in the dying minutes.”
It’s difficult to argue with that assessment. McEntee’s men just about deserved to hold out but to Burren’s credit they contributed greatly to a marvellous 60 minutes that ebbed and flowed from start to finish, though they will look back with great regret on missed scoring opportunities either side of half time.
The loser’s cause wasn’t helped by a hesitant and nervy first half performance when time and again they were guilty of needlessly conceding possession as their defence was cut to ribbons by the pace and movement of the opposing attack.
The winners signalled their intention from the very start with an opening minute point by Aaron Kernan.
Sean Murdock’s pointed free levelled the match, but Cross got quickly into their stride then land
ed points through Oisin McConville and Johnny Hanratty before Michael McNamee struck for a well-worked goal.
Sean Murdock’s second point reduced the deficit before Cross half back Stephen Finnegan conjured up a delightful point.
Michael McNamee, Oisin McConville and Tony Kernan then landed further points before keeper Paul Hearty rescued the winners with a superb point blank save from Donal O’Hare.
You sensed then that the game might be turning in Burren’s favour and just on half time James McGovern and Anton McArdle combined to set Sean Murdock clear and he blasted the ball to Rangers net.
An early Burren point on the restart from Eoin McCartan reinforced the Burren revival and 11 minutes from the end Donal O’Hare’s goal levelled the match before Michael McNamee’s dramatic, late point sealed a hard earned victory and left Burren reflecting in the end on what might have been.
CROSSMAGLEN: P Hearty, P McKeown, P Kernan, J Morgan, A Kernan 0-1, D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan 0-1, J Hanratty 0-1,
D McKenna, K Carragher, S Kernan, F Hanratty, T Kernan 0-3, M McNamee 1-2, O McConville 0-3.
BURREN: C Murdock, C McGovern, D McCartan, R McGovern, K McKernan, D O’Hare,1-0, G McCartan, A Higgins, D Rooney, C McGovern, J McGovern, E McGovern 0-1, A McArdle, E Toner,S Murdock 1-5. Subs: E McCartan 0-1 for C McGovern, C Byrne for E Toner.
Referee: J White (Donegal).