Rangers once again.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Rangers once again. thumbnail CROSSMAGLEN celebrate their Under 21 Senior Championship victory.

CROSSMAGLEN U21 captain Aidan Rushe said farewell to his underage footballing career by lifting the trophy and he hopes Sunday's win can transcend into glory days for the senior team.

KILLEAVY ...1-07

Crossmaglen did enough to get past a dogged Killeavy, as when they needed to respond, the Rangers possessed the quality to finish the game off.

Killeavy put in a vigorous effort but they were a little shy in front of the posts and they didn't get enough scores when they had chances, with four scoring chances falling particularly frustratingly short.

There were several spectacular scores, with top-scorer Rian O'Neill picking out some long-range beauties but the score failed to match the dizzy heights of the Intermediate U21 final, which was won by Mullaghbawn in Sunday's curtain-raiser in the Athletic Grounds.

Rangers never really looked in trouble although Niall Magennis did give them a scare with a rousing opening to the second half, but Cross weren't rattled and soaked up the pressure before delivering the knockout blow.

It may not have been vintage Cross, but it was typical Rangers and the cream rose to the top on Sunday.

With the seniors missing out on the county title over the past two years, captain Rushe was happy to bring some joy back to the club although he didn't feel any extra pressure.

"I don't know if it was pressure but we sort of wanted to do ourselves proud and the club proud because the two senior defeats in the last two years and the minor and muniors got beaten as well, we wanted to bring a bit of silverware back to the club," said Rushe.

"It is always great to win a cup and we said at the start of the year that we hadn't won much so we really wanted to come back today and win a cup."

Miceal McNamee's fisted point gave Killeavy the early lead but Cross were soon in front following a wonderful 40-metre point from Rian O'Neill and a converted free from Miceal McCabe.

Two points in as many mutes from Rian and the impressive Stephen Morris put Cross in command before Caolan Mc- Conville's converted 45' helped Killeavy halve the lead by the first quarter.

Killeavy had chances to close the gap but dropped two shots short and kicked another wide before Crossmaglen punished them with a flurry of points from captain Rushe, Rian and Coilin O'Connor.

Niall Magennis turned his marker before pointing to give Killeavy some hope and Conor O'Neill's point gave the boys in green and black something to fight for in the second half.

Half-time: Crossmaglen 0-08 Killeavy 0-04.

Killeavy came storming into the second half with courage and conviction as Magennis used his speed and agility to power past Johnny McKeever and shoot low and just inside the near post for a cracking goal.

And with 36 minutes gone the sides were level, again Magennis sped through the Cross defence only this time he shot over the crossbar.

However, Crossmaglen had been in this position before as Clann Eireann and Silverbridge ran the Rangers close and captain Rushe said they drew from that experience.

"Whenever they came back at us in the second half we knew it was going to be tough but we had gone through those days before and knew what was within ourselves, so it was important to put a couple of more points on the board to show we could do it," said Rushe.

And they did that, helped by a fortunate free, which Oisin O'Neill stroked between the posts.

Callum Kieran extended Crossmaglen's lead with a fine point before the killer blow came as Oisin floated an inviting ball towards the edge of the square, with O'Connor and Killeavy keeper Matthew McEvoy racing for that vital touch and with an inch to spare the Cross forward cleverly flicked the ball into the net.

Cross knew they had the job done and players such as Stephen Morris, Caolan Dillon, Aaron Smylie worked hard making tackles and pushing forward while, up front Cian McConville provided an outlet and the O'Neill brothers gave Killeavy plenty of concern.

Oisin O'Neill and Cian McConville tagged on points either side of Conor O'Neill's converted free and while Caolan McConville added another score for Killeavy it was the O'Neill brothers that tapped over two long range stunners to seal victory.

Before the final whistle matters got a little heated but both teams shook hands when full-time blew.

Killeavy can be proud of their performance and with an Intermediate Club Championship already this season, they can reflect on a great year on the pitch.

For Crossmaglen, it was vital this bunch of players added U21 to their long list and while much of this squad are still U21 next season, they will be the backbone of the Crossmaglen senior team in the near future.

And Rushe is hungry for more success.

"I am a year older than most of these boys but they have won absolutely everything through underage and I just hope to God that we can bring it through to senior level," said Rushe.

"It is a nice way to cap off my underage career, so hopefully bigger and better things comes at seniors."

Crossmaglen: Jamie McEvoy, Johnny McKeever, Shane Farrelly, Aaron Smylie, Aidan Rushe, Caolan Dillon, Daniel Cumiskey, Stephen Morris, Rian O'Neill, Ryan McKeever, Oisin O'Neill, Cormac Donnelly, Miceal McCabe, Callum Kieran, Colin O'Connor.

Subs used: Cian McConville for McCabe (32'), Shane McConville for Kieran (58'), Darren McDonnell for Donnelly (59').

Crossmaglen Rangers scorers: R O'Neill (0-07, 0-03 frees), C O'Connor (1-01), O O'Neill (0-03, 0-01 free), A Rushe (0-01), M McCabe (0-01, 0-01 free), S Morris (0-01), C Kieran (0-01), C McConville (0-01).

Killeavy: Mathhew McEvoy, Fergal Connolly, Cathair McKinney, Conor Magennis, Caolan Mc- Conville, Kyle Mallon, Ronan McGuinness, Paul Quinn, Cathal Boylan, Ben Hughes, Conor O'Neill, Daniel Darragh, Niall Magennis, David Grant, Miceal Mc- Namee.

Subs used: Ryle O'Hanlon for Grant (ht'), Niall Doran for Hughes (52').

Killeavy scorers: N Magennis (1-02), C Mc- Conville (0-02, 0-1 45', 0-1 free), C O'Neill (0-02, 0-02 frees), M McNamee (0-01).


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