Semi-Finals decided

September 16, 2013

Crossmaglen Rangers 2-11 Pearse Og 0-7

13 years since last in charge of Cross, and playing the only team to have beaten your team in 17 years of Armagh Championship action on Friday 13th with the media talking up an upset, Big Joe guided an understrength Rangers team to their biggest win over their city rivals Perase Og since he guided them to a 1-14 to 0-6 County Final victory back in the year 2000. The largest attendance for a quarter final match gathered at the Athletic Grounds in anticipation of a classic. Truth is only the champions turned up for the battle with the challengers put to bed as early as the nineteenth minute when Martin Aherne slotted home a superb team goal.

Og’s had started brightly, dominated around the middle and led through an Anto Duffy point and had shipped a pair of bad wides. Cross opened their account on 9 minutes courtesy of Aaron Cunningham but 2 minutes later Sean Clarke regained the lead for the Og’s with a point which was to be their last score of the half. Kyle Brennan levelled matters, a Tony Kernan free gave Cross the lead before the two Aaron’s Kernan and Cunningham cut through the middle of the Og’s defence to enable” Fish” put the ball in the net for a glorious goal. Aaron Kernan converted a free to increase the lead before Mark Cullen, clean through, shot wide of the upright when he could have advanced further in on goalkeeper Hearty.

Aherne, Cunningham and Tony Kernan added to the Rangers tally to leave it 1-7 to 0-2 at the short whistle. The second half began with two converted Mark Cullen frees and were we at last to see a bit of fight from the underdogs but the bite was soon taken right out of their challenge. In the first attack of the half Johnny Hanratty, who had long since controlled midfield matters, played a lovely ball to target man Kyle Carragher who quickly off loaded to the in-coming Tony Kernan who left keeper McKinney helpless as Cross sailed into a 9 point lead. The half petered out from a football point of view. A Tony Kernan free followed by a second point from play by Brennan with 2 Cullen frees in reply before Brennan bagged his third point. Substitute Franny Hanratty landed Rangers eleventh point with most of the attendance watching the melee at the other end of the field which saw Ross Clarke get a straight red and Paul Hearty a yellow. The Og’s only second half score from play was delivered with the last kick by JP Donnelly.

Ballymacnab 1-8 Granemore 0-7

This parish derby was decided by a well –worked first half goal as once again underdogs Ballymacnab upset their more fancied neighbours Granemore. Having scraped past 14 man Culloville the ‘Nab were taking on Granemore who impressed when beating Armagh Harps in the last round Barry Toner from a free gave Granemore a seventh minute lead but 2 minutes later midfielder Tony McKee levelled before Chrissie O’Connor pointed a possible goal chance. It was soon 3-1 to Granemore once Barry Toner pointed on 20 minutes. A sweeping ‘Nab move which included a deft flick from McCone to the impressive Rory Grugan split open the defence with  brother Jack offloading back to Rory for what turned out to be the games only goal. The goal galvanized Ballymacxnab who slipped up a gear following the three pointer finishing the half strongly following an equalizing point from O’Connor. Jack Grugan set up Brian McCone for a stoppage time point and Pauric Gribben added another just on the short whistle to leave it 1-3 to 0-4 to the ‘Nab at half-time.

Seven minutes after the re-start McCone from a free put a goal between them. A minute later the point of the game followed from Rory Grugan and when Ryan Kennedy increased the lead to 1-6 to 0-4 Granemore were in big trouble. Rory Grugan dispossessed a defender to pilfer another point before 18 minutes in Declan Doyle got Granemore’s first point of the half. A missed free at one end led to a ‘Nab point at the other as Ryan Kennedy ended a swift counter attack with a point to keep the 2 goal cushion with 6 minutes left on the clock. Two late Barry Toner frees put a gloss on the final score  1-8 to 0-7 for the losers who were outplayed for long spells of the second half.

St Patrick’s 2-12 Sarsfields 1-11

With the Stevenson brothers ruled out through injury it was going to be an uphill task for Sarsfields against a Pat’s side with Gary McCooey and Liam O’Hare back in the starting 15. Under 21 star Paul McGeown gave Sarsfields the lead but full forward Mal Mackin quickly levelled only for Mark Reynolds to regain the lead for the Derrytrasna boys. A speculative Gareth Mackin point attempt, following good work by powerhouse throughout Ciaran McKeever dropped short with brother Malachy ever alert to punch to the net to give Pat’s a lead that was never to be relinquished. McKeever soloed 30 yards before extending the lead with a super point and Gareth Mackin pointed a goal chance to stretch the lead to 4 points. A Paul McGeown free left a goal in it going into the last 10 minutes of the half. A subdued Robbie Tasker linked with Barry McConville who parted to Garteh Mackin who made no mistake this time sending a rasping shot to the net. Sarsfields responded to the two goal deficit with two points from Eamon and Paul McGeown to leave it 2-3 to 0-5 at the interval.

The two teams traded points in the second half but only once with 10 minutes remaining did Sarsfields get closer than 3 points to the Pat’s who like the Whitecross game in the last round finished the half very strong. Tasker (2) Nugent, McKeever substitute Donnelly all added late points to a solitary reply from Thomas McAlinden as the winners led 2-12 to 0-11. Game Sarsfields fought right to the end and had the final say with a consolation goal from Paul McGeown.

Carrickruppen 0-5 Maghery 1-12

The scoreline says it all with me thinking beforehand that ‘Cruppen were title contenders and yet they failed to score from open play for the duration of the match. A Stefan Forker opening score from a free was cancelled by the first of 3 free sconverted by Conor Sloan in the first half for ‘Cruppen’s total score for the half. Jack Lavery, Aidan Forker, Stefan Forker, Stephen Cusack, James Lavery helped make it 6 -1 by the twentieth minute. Sloan pointed a free followed by a series of wides before the killer goal arrived from Maghery. The impressive  Cusack burst through the ‘Cruppen defence before parting to substitute Conor Forker whose goal made it a 7 point game, reduced to six with Sloans third point.

Cusack, Stefan and Aidan Forker extended the lead before two Declan Monaghan frees for ‘Cruppen interrupted their flow with Monaghan the most impressive losers attacker, rattled the crossbar with a great goal effort to try and revive his team’s hopes. Stephan Fox and Stefan Forker rounded off a comfortable day at the office for the Loughshoremen