Rangers rout out of tune Harps

October 20, 2014

Simplyfruit Senior Football Championship Final

● Crossmaglen Rangers 4-14 Armagh Harps 0-9

The hitherto untested champions were to be wary of high flying Harps was the build up to the 2014 Armagh County Final. For Harps to cause the big upset they needed to punish the champions every indiscretion but the bare facts of the match tell their own story. Harps failed to score from play for 33 minutes, the City side managed 1 point in the first half, Cross accumulated 3 wides over the hour, Harps had 13, Rangers scored 18 times, double that of Harps, and produced 8 different scores to just 4 for Harps. The facts, the fact, you cannot dispute the facts.

The challengers were wasting their possession, had hit 3 wides to Rangers 3 scores in the opening 5 minutes and found that the game was already out of their reach as they trailed 1-2 to nil.

Kyle Carragher open the scoring after 41 seconds following good work by Rico Kelly who dispossessed Charlie Vernon. The impressive Callumn Cumiskey opened his account as Vernon, McKenna and Conor Colter, on form from the start, in place of corner back Mark McCoy in one of two changes made by the Harps, the others saw Gareth Swift, in at full-forward in place of Pauric Rafferty.

On 4 minutes Paul McKeown played a great ball out of defence to Tony Kernan who in turn fist passed to Jamie Clarke who tore through the middle of the Harps defence to slot the ball past Paddy Morrison for the game’s first green flag.

The mercurial Clarke was soon seeing stars, when a knock to the face forced him off, replaced by blood sub Kyle Brennan.

It was eight minutes before Harps opened their account through the boot of Lennon from a free. Sub Brennan added the next point followed by a cheeky lob from John Murtagh which stayed the top side of Morrison’s crossbar to leave it 1-4 to 0-1 after seventeen minutes. The busy Morrison (who could not be faulted for any of the goals that went past him) saved smartly from Martin Aherne at the expense of “45”. Aherne, Rico Kelly combined to set up Tony Kernan for his first point. The game was up for Harps on 28 mins as Kelly, Carragher and Man of the Match, Aaron Kernan, all combined to set up the returned Jamie for his second goal which was calmly dispatched past a defenceless Morrison.

An off the ball “skirmish” saw yellow cards for Morgan and Swift as Aaron Kernan with 2 pointed frees completed the first half scoring. Harps would need the second half comeback of all times to overturn a 2-7 to 0-1 interval defecit against such a strong and experienced outfit.

Within 40 seconds of the restart any lingering notion of Harps making a match of it were dispelled as Cumiskey and Aaron extended the Rangers lead to 14 points.

Harps endeavours brought them their first real reward, 3 points in a row as a Lennon free was followed by their first score from play from substitute Conor White and another pointed Lennon free.

The Kernan brothers Aaron and Tony interrupted the Harps flow with Tony ‘chipping the keeper’ but the leather landed on top of the net followed by a third point for Cumiskey, 2-11 to 0-4.

Harps were wide of the mark half dozen times before Lennon pointed a 45″ as Rangers introduced David McKenna for team captain Johnny Hanratty who was carrying an injury into the final.

Jamie Clarke open his second half account with a trade mark point before McKenna made his presence felt, cutting through the Harps defence to set up Kyle Carragher for his side’s third goal. From the resulting kick-out Carragher added a point as Kyle Brennan replaced Carragher, Garvan Carragher came on for James Morgan and Conor O’Neill replaced Stephen Finnegan. Aaron Kernan set up McKenna for a point as Shane Grimley bagged Harps with sixth points on 53 minutes.

Declan McKenna, Armagh Harps, best performer, weighed in with a point. Aaron-Jamie-Aaron torn open the Harps defence setting up McKenna for a fisted goal. Rangers made their last substitutes, David McKenna for Rico Kelly.

Lennon, from play, got Harps eighth point before Hearty pulled off a flying save to deny White a Harps goal. Harps substitute Sé Grimley grafted his second point which was to be the last score of what was, for any neutrals, a disappointing one sided spectacle that had the outcome written all over it shorthly after it had begun.

The young pretenders to the throne have to go back to the drawing board to regroup and come again next year. Crossmaglen Rangers showed their clinical nature in brushing aside their challengers early on and were not flattered by their winning margin as they were far from extended in capturing then 18th title in 19 years.

Rnagers celebrations would have been made fellow all the sweeter when they would have heard that seasoned Ulster Campaigners Kilcoo and Ballinderry made their exists from the championship. Cross being Cross will only be focused on what’s up next, a trip to Omagh on November 2nd to tackle the Tyrone champions.

With Armagh out of the way, Cross traditionally show improved form for the Ulster campaign. David McKenna, Stephen Kernan, Aaron Cummingham, Mel Boyce, Francis Hanratty are all getting back to near full fitness which will no doubt bolster a squad brimming with confidence, and above all retaining the hunger and appetite for further success and glory.

Crossmaglen Rangers Team: Paul Hearty, Stephen Finnegan, James Morgan, Paul Hughes, Aaron Kernan (0-3), Paul McKeown, Callum Cumiskey (0-3), Johnny Hanratty, Rico Kelly, Tony Kernan (0-2), Jamie Clarke (2-1), Martin Aherne, Kyle Carragher (1-2), Michael McNamee, John Murtagh (0-1). Subs: David McKenna (1-1) for Hanratty, Kyle Brennan (0-1) for Carragher, Garvan Carragher for Stephen Finnegan, Conor O’Neill for Morgan and Aidan Rushe for Kelly.

Armagh Harps Team: Paddy Morrison, Kevin Morris, Conan Lennon, Mark McCoy, Mark McConville, Joe McElroy, Rory McGrath, Charles Vernon, Declan McKenna (0-5), Simon McCoy, Ultan Lennon (0-5), Karol Loughran, Ryan McShane, Pauric Raffery, Paddy McCoy, Sé Grimley (0-2), Conor White (0-1).