Upper Rules Lower

October 21, 2013

They came from far and wide as the first ever Creggan Parochial rivalry captured the imagination but like the previous 16 finalists St. Patrick’s found no fairy tale ending to their journey as Crossmaglen Rangers captured their 4th Armagh title in a row.

From the moment, eventual Man of the Match, Kyle Carragher set up Callum Cumiskey for the opening point with 15 seconds on the clock, the task of the underdogs St. Patrick’s was made all the more difficult not that the one point did the damage as it was the manner of how it was achieved. The pace of the champion forwards constantly undermined, a dogged, determined Pat’s rearguard that simply lacked the speed to keep with the opposition.

Pat’s were quickly back on level terms as Paul Hearty (picking up his 17th Senior Football Championship Medal, must be a national record?) dropped the ball allowing Robbie Tasker to set up Tony Donnelly for an equaliser.  Cross piled on the pressure with or without the ball giving Pat’s no time to settle into the contest. Kyle Carragher helped himself to 2 points, Cumiskey kept a wild kick from Mickey McNamee (on from the start replacing Stephen Finnegan State Side during the week performing wedding duties) in play and pointed to leave it 4-1 at the quarter hour. Carragher off loaded to Brennan who pointed, Cumiskey got his third just before Kyle Carragher got his as Cross lead 7-1 after 20 minutes.

All 7 of the Rangers points had come from open play and all were scored by the trio in the full forward line.

Pat’s fielded without injured half back and captain Paudie McCreesh and also started Tony Donnelly in place of the programmed Aidan Nugent and needed a lift. Malachy Mackin showing for plenty of the ball, was fouled by his marker Garvan Carragher, regular full back Paul McKeown was on man marking duties assigned to Robbie Tasker. Suffice to say a good job was done as the Pat’s leading player was held scoreless from play.

A foul on the very industrious Martin Aherne brought Rangers first point from a free from the boot of captain Tony Kernan. Another foul on Mackin saw Tasker leave it 8-3 as referee Jim Slevin replacement for the injured Steven McKinley (broken bone in foot) blew for half time.

St. Pat’s were not overawed by the occasion, it was simply experience against the inexperience and a functioning forward line as opposed to a sextet struggling to get any rhythm built up as the Cross tactical play stifled their options. Still with only a 5 point deficit, a better second half from the men from the lower parish could be anticipated.

Tasker profited from over carrying by Danny O’Callaghan as his pointed free left it double scores after 4 minutes of the restart. Armagh skipper Ciaran McKeever landed the best point of the game and the temperature rose as yet another Pat’s comeback gathering momentum.

A foul on that man Carragher enabled Tony Kernan curtail the fight back as Cross added only their second point in the last 20 minutes of play. The skipper uncharacteristically missed a simple free before substitute David McKenna marked his first championship appearance of the campaign with a point that hawk eye might have been called into action if it was available. It was 10-5 with twenty minutes remaining and the game out of sight for the challenger as Tony Kernan, and Aaron Cunningham, and another substitute Paul Og Grant with a point from play made it 13-5 with 10 minutes left on the clock.

A Ciaran McKeever long punt bounced on the square and over the cross bar, but it was quickly cancelled as corner back Paul Hughes combined with Tony Kernan to set up Kyle Carragher for his fourth point from play. Two Tasker frees cut into the lead 14-8 with the magic time for Pat’s appearing ‘the last 5 minutes’ which saw them turn over Whitecross and Ballymacnab. But as they learned Cross are a different breed of animal, pure bred like the ones doing Pat’s Stephen Reel proud. Rangers rarely give teams a reprieve when they have them on the rack. Substitute Mel Boyce in for injured Cunningham grabbed the second last score of the game. Tasker took a quick free but Hearty was alert to save it and it was the man to lift the cup just like his two brothers did before him, Tony Kernan who had the last say pointing following a foul on Grant.

Pat’s like so many teams before them found out, that this late into the year Cross are very hard to beat.

A 9 point defeat in their first ever final against the champions is a lot better than all first time finalists have fared, but that fact is just a mere consolation for the losers.

Rangers hit 14 points from play as opposed to 3 for the losers- only one point from play from a Pat’s forward as opposed to a dozen for the winners. It is clear to see where the game was won and lost. Eight different scorers for the champions while only 3 chipped in with points for the losers.

Upper Creegan rolls on in search of an elusive 4 in a row in Ulster.Lower Creggan roles on to the 125th Year Celebration Dinner proud in the knowledge that they have made club history and have something to build on.

Crossmaglen Rangers – Paul Hearty, Paul Hughes, Paul McKeown, Mickey McNamee, Aaron Kernan, Garvan Carragher, Danny O’Callaghan, Johnny Hanratty, Tony Kernan (Capt), Aaron Cunningham, Stephen Kernan, Martin Aherne, Kyle Brennan, Kyle Carragher, Callum Cumiskey. Sub: David McKenna for McNamee, Paul Og Grant for Brennan and Mel Boyce for Cunningham.

St Patrick’s,Cullyhanna – Conor O’Neill, Kieran McCooey, Gary McCooey, Michael Murray, Stephen Reel, Sean Connell, Colm Hoey, Ciaran McKeever, Barry McConville, Liam O’Hare, Robbie Tasker, Eugene Casey, Pearse Casey, Malachy Mackin, Aidan Nugent.  Sub: Niall McShane for Kieran McCooey, Gary Mackin for Reel.