Cullyhanna beat Cross

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Cullyhanna beat Cross thumbnail CIARAN McKeever is tackled by Crossmaglen half-forward Michael McNamee on Sunday.

FIGHTING on the pitch and in the stands overshadowed what was a magnificent game of gaelic football between Crossmaglen Rangers and St Pat's Cullyhanna.


Played in St Oliver Plunkett's Park in Crossmaglen two teams gave the proverbial hell-for-leather game of football, which Cullyhanna edged by the time the final whistle blew.

There was little between the teams and the fights that broke out were beyond the usual brawl that might ensue between rivals. It was a brawl on the pitch but it spilled through the gates and then there were pockets of fights further up in the seated area.

It was sad to see because both teams should be applauded for the manner they played the game.

Referee Stephen McKinley allowed the game to flow, which contributed to an entertaining end-to-end spectacle, but he faced the wrath of some fans as he left.

As aforementioned it was an exciting game played at searing pace which Kyle Carragher and Rian O'Neill set the tone after two points in the opening minute.

Crossmaglen had a strong wind to their backs and they took advantage with Oisin O'Neill stroking over several stunning long-range points, which were a joy to watch.

Two converted frees from the day's top-scorer Aidan Nugent levelled the score but Cross quickly regained the lead after two Oisin O'Neill magnificent points, including one from the side-line, sandwiched either side of a point from the impressive Stephen Morris.

Cross raced into a 0-05 to 0-02 lead with 11 minutes gone but on 14 minutes they trailed 0-05 to 2-02.

That's right, Cullyhanna bagged two goals within a minute from Hoey brothers Shea and Aidan.

In a sweeping move involving Ross McQuillan and Pearse Casey, Cullyhanna cut the Rangers defence wide open with Aidan bagging the first goal after he tucked his shot neatly into the bottom right corner of the net. And less than a minute later with almost a carbon copy move, Shea Hoey simply went for the jugular and rammed his shot past Paul Hearty.

As expected Rangers hit back with Kyle Carragher finishing off a slick move with a point and Oisin O'Neill launched a beauty from 50-metres. Aaron Kernan motored his way towards goal but was blown up for over-carrying, however the indications were that Cross had found their groove.

Young Colin O'Connor steered over a fine point, in his first season with Crossmaglen, to level the scores and Oisin O'Neill weighed in with his fourth point from to point Rangers back in the driving seat with 21 minutes gone.

But Cullyhanna were far from done and again they got through on goal only Cross keeper Paul Hearty pulled off an outstanding close-range save, to tip Kieran Hoey 's shot over the bar, after his brother provided the defence splitting pass.

The sides were level for the second time and this time Cullyhanna edged ahead as Aidan Nugent pointed and Shea Hoey tagged on another before limping off injured.

With half-time approaching Crossmaglen rallied with Stephen Morris and Aaron Kernan pointing to level the score for the third occasion but county player Ross McQuillian had the last say and his point gave Cullyhanna a slender lead at the break.

Rangers introduced Garbhan Carragher and Paul McKeown during the second half but Cullyhanna had the wind advantage even though it had slightly changed to a cross-field direction after a heavy rain shower during the break.

Stephen Morris levelled the score again but Aidan Nugent's kicking kept Cullyhanna on top and he steered three shots over the bar in as many minutes, although Paudie Stuttard replied in between.

O'Neill brothers Oisin and Rian added to Cross' tally to level the game for the fifth time with 48 minutes gone. And again Aidan Nugent and Oisin O'Neill traded scores, but another Nugent converted free gave St Pat's the lead with five minutes of normal time remaining.

A row broke out close to the dugouts, and it spread into the stands. Referee McKinley got the game going again as there was still arguing in the stands and in additional time Nugent converted his sixth free to give Cullyhanna a two-point lead.

Cross pushed for a goal but Cullyhanna held firm, permitting Rangers only another Oisin O'Neill point (free), for St Pat's to confirm a memorable victory.

There were several excellent performers. Cross gave a number of their younger players some game-time as they will be expected to step up before the Championship, while Cullyhanna seemed to have a more settled side on Sunday.

The battle between Crossmaglen's young Rian O'Neill and Cullyhanna's experienced leader Ciaran McKeever was interesting with both having an influence on the game. McKeever was solid in defence while at the other end Shea Hoey was hard to handle, before he left the pitch injured.

Crossmaglen's Stephen Morris has developed into a fine footballer and he impressed in midfield, while Caolan Dillon is showing promise and he did ok marking Kieran Hoey, but it was Paul Hearty who coming out of retirement as the two keepers are injured, was excellent.

Cullyhanna can take plenty of positives from the result and performance, while Cross will be expected to get back to winning ways.

Crossmaglen Rangers: Paul Hearty, Liam Blessing, Caolan Dillon, Johnny McKeever, Aaron Kernan (0-1), Aidan Rushe, Daniel Cunningham, Stephen Morris (0-3), Oisin O'Neill 0-7, 2f), Mickey McNamee, Rian O'Neill (0-2, 1f), Paudie Stuttard (0-1), Colin O'Connor (0-1), Mel Boyce, Kyle Carragher (0-2). Subs: Garbhan Carragher, Paul McKeown, Rico Kelly.

Cullyhanna: James Carragher, Francis O'Rourke, Kieran McCooey, Phelim McArdle, Michael Murray, Ciaran McKeever, Paudie McCreesh, Shane Conlon, Pearse Casey, Conor Nugent, Ross McQuillan (0-1), Ciaran Nugent, Shea Hoey (1-1), Kieran Hoey (1-1), Aidan Nugent (0-9, 7f). Subs: Paidi Conlon, Kyle Reid.


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