Rangers rule over Og
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
CROSSMAGLEN Rangers are still the team to beat in Armagh football.
They proved as much when they eased past City side Pearse Og in the County Senior Championship semi-final in front of over 4,000 fans on Friday.
Played in the Athletic Grounds the City side toyed with the idea of putting up a contest, but only two points from Anto Duffy and Sean Clarke out of seven scoring opportunities in the opening eight minutes was a poor return and Crossmaglen responded in emphatic style.
Martin Aherne's goal on 18 minutes was a culmination of a slick-passing move between Aaron Kernan and Aaron Cunningham and by that stage Cunningham, Kyle Brennan and captain Tony Kernan (free) had already established Crossmaglen's lead.
Pearse Og created further chances with Marc Cullen's effort flashing dangerously low across the face of Paul Hearty's goalmouth, but with Garbhan Carragher winning possession, Paul McKeown, Paul Hughes and Stephen Finnegan making intelligent tackles, the Cross rearguard tightened up and the attack came to the fore.
Kyle Carragher, Martin Aherne, Aaron and Tony Kernan (frees) extended Crossmaglen's lead as they led 1-07 to 0-02 at the break.
While Marc Cullen knocked over two points after the restart, Crossmaglen never looked vulnerable and the game was over as a contest as early as 33 minutes when Tony Kernan neatly finished a swift, sweeping move between Johnny Hanratty and Kyle Carragher, with a classy goal.
Tony Kernan, Kyle Brennan (2) and substitute Franny Hanratty popped up with further points in a second half that stuttered to the final whistle. Cullen and Pearse Og substitute JP Donnelly, playing his last game for the city club, chipped in with scores, but it was meaningless as Joe Kernan's Crossmaglen remain the team to catch.
What makes Crossmaglen's victory even more remarkable is that they were without marquee forward Jamie Clarke, and they were also missing the injured James Morgan and Paul Kernan. Midfielder David McKenna, who has also returned from the States, was on the bench although all-time club championship record scorer Oisin McConville, who has retired, was missing for the first time since 1996.
The players that Big Joe brought in stood the test but there is no dramatic change in style from the team he inherited from Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill. On Friday night the kick passing was accurate, the tackles heavy, and Rangers played with belief.
Garbhan Carragher has excelled under Kernan. A few years ago in this paper I described him as the next Francie Bellew, and on Friday his no-nonsense, tough tackling approach was his best performance in the Senior Club Championship. All the Kernan brothers - Stephen, Aaron and Tony - played with style and steel, while up front Cumiskey and Brennan were busy. Aherne and Cunningham were always available for the pass and used possession wisely with a touch of class, while Johnny Hanratty ruled the roost in the middle.
With McKenna and Franny Hanratty pushing for a starting position and Jamie Clarke yet to come back into the Rangers fold, Rangers are in a healthy position and will be confident facing Maghery in the Armagh Club semi-finals.
CROSSMAGLEN: Paul Hearty, Paul Hughes, Paul McKeown, Stephen Finnegan, Aaron Kernan (0-2), Garbhan Carragher, Danny O'Callaghan, Johnny Hanratty, Tony Kernan (1-2) Aaron Cunningham (01), Stephen Kernan (0-1), Martin Aherne (1-1), Kyle Brennan (0-3), Kyle Carragher and Callum Cumiskey. Subs used: Franny Hanratty (0-1) for Cunningham 52'.
PEARSE OG: Ciaran McKinney, Sean Gribin, Gerard Barton, Lee McGinley, Malachi McLaughlin, Darnell Parkinson, Shay Freeman, Christopher Rafferty, Sean Moore, Ross Clarke (0-1), Anto Duffy (0-1), Mark Trainor, Marc Cullen (0-4), Sean Clarke and Paul Duffy. Subs used: JP Donnelly (0-1) for Moore.
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