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Armagh Football Championship Update

October 3, 2016

•SFC Semi-Final St Patrick 1-15 Rangers 0-17

Mackin’s goal defeats Cross

Just when it looked as if the defending champions were about to qualify for their seventh successive final, holding onto a 2 point lead after losing Garvan Carragher to a second yellow 12 minutes into the second half, Pat’s, who battled gamely, throughout fired a high ball into the square seeking a goal. Veteran keeper Paul Hearty looked to have the situation under control as he advanced off his line but elected to punch instead of catching the ball and it went off his glove for a “45”. Cullyhanna’s own Man of the Match, Aiden Nugent, launched the ball back into a crowded goalmouth where Mackin got that all important winning flick and Rangers were left to suffer only their second Armagh defeat in 21 years.

The underdogs started the brighter leading 2 nil, 3-1 and then 4-2 inside the opening 8 minutes. Ten minutes later Martin Aherne fired Cross 6-5 ahead and they were never headed until those dramatic last moments.  By the time the short whistle had arrived Cross were 4 points to the good 0-12 (Aaron Kernan 0-4, Tony Kernan 0-3, Oisin O’Neill 0-3, Martin Aherne and Kyle Carragher 1 point each) to 0-8. (Aidan Nugent 0-6, Jason Duffy and Eugene Casey a point each).

In a game of many talking points mostly concerning the referee the entertainment and excitement never weaned as both sides went at it in true championship style. Seventeen minutes into the second half the sides were level at 14 points each some six minutes later Aaron Kernan and Nugent had swopped points. Cross began to press and gain control as Paudie Stuttard gave them the lead. When minor star Rian O’Neill was introduced after scoring 1-7 as Cross Minors retained their County title with a 2-15 to 2-5 win over Mullaghbawn the young starlet was through on goals but was denied the 3 pointer by a superb save by James Carragher at the expense of a point. Cross missed opportunities to add to that 2 point lead which proved very costly in the end as a game Cullyhanna side emptied their bench and the tanks to come back from the brink in dramatic fashion to reach their second ever Senior final where they will take on Maghery.

Maghery end final famine

Maghery 2-17 Clann Eireann 1-9

Maghery will be making their first county final appearance since 1993 following their comfortable 2-17 to 1-9 over North Armagh rivals Clann Eireann.  Favourites Maghery were on the front foot from the off but it was a goal, a minute from the short whistle, from Aidan Forker that effectively killed this game as a contest as the Loughshore men went in at the break 10 points to the good 1-9 to 0-2. By the time Ryan Henderson opened the Clann Eireann scoring account on 18 minutes Maghery had points from Stephen Cusack (2) Conor Mackle (2) and Stefan Forker already on the board. Shea Tennyson (2), Mackle and Stefan Forker had added more points for Shane McConville’s Maghery before Jack Wilson added a second point for the Lurgan boys. The Forker goal was a real body blow which made an already uphill struggle for the underdogs practically out of their reach save a second half Maghery collapse.

In fairness Clann Eireann set about their task in the right manner with Ryan Henderson opening the scoring but a terrific sideline point from Stefan Forker was the reply. Goalkeeper Johnny Montgomery made a couple of smart saves to deny Clans a much needed tonic goal as points from Chris McCafferty and Henderson left it 1-10 to 0-5. Maghery snuffed out the opposition challenge in a matter of moments. A Mackle point was followed by a clinching goal from Tennyson who cleverly and calmly outwitted the goalkeeper before knocking the ball over the line. Two more Maghery points from Cranley and Aidan Forker left them 2-13 to 0-5 clear with 15 minutes left on the clock. Substitute Adam Kelly made a great impact for the losers as he pointed before firing to the net past Montgomery. Henderson had 2 points cancelled out by the Forkers Stefan and Seamus and another Clann Eirean point from Paul McKenna brought a reply in kind from Conor Forker as Maghery booked their spot in the final 2-17 to 1-9.

● Junior championship

St Patrick’s Seconds v Clonmore

There will be a bit of history made in Cullyhanna over the next fortnight as the club contests 2 County Finals the Junior and the Senior. St Patrick’s Seconds will take on Clonmore next Sunday in the Junior Championship with their opponents appearing in back to back finals having lost last year to Tullysaran.

Clonmore will enter the game as favourites but the underdogs have shown progress since their first round win over Killeavy Seconds. Kyle Reid, Paul Donnelly and Colm Hoey have been welcome additions to the squad and with 4-40 (Shane McKeever 0-17, Kyle Reid 2-06, Paul Donnelly 1-06, Brendan Nugent 0-06, Colm Hoey 1-02, Ciaran Nugent 0-02, Barry McKeever 0-01) they certainly know where the posts are. Clonmore, with Brendan Donaghy to the fore, have been seeking this title for a number of years but only managed 0-8 in last year’s decider to the concession of 1-13. I think that it could be anmother disappointment for Clonmore as the feel good factor around Cullyhanna following their Senior win over Cross can be transmitted to their Junior side. The only downer for Pat’s Seconds is that a win does not allow them take part in the Ulster Club as Second teams are not allowed participate.

Intermediate Championship

Whitecross to end Tullysaran fairytale

Whitecross have been very impressive in their run to consecutive Intermediate finals and will be hoping that they can go one better than last year when they were beaten by Clann Eireann 2-13 to 2-8. Will it be a case of “Seventh Heaven” for Whitecross who are appearing in final number 7 with their record standing at 3 wins 1971 (bt St Patrick’s), 1978 (bt Culloville) 2007 (bt Culloville) and 3 losses 1973 (Pearse Og), 2005 (Granemore) and last year to Clann Eireann. Opponents in this year’s decider are competition surprise packets Tullysaran O Connell’s fresh from their first ever Championship when capturing the Junior Championship 12 month’s ago.

It’s a great pity that club stalward Brendan Smyth (ar dheis De go raibh a anam) will be only a spiritual presence for the second biggest day in the club’s history as Tullysaran try to claim the Intermediate title in their first final appearance. A line through form tells you that under the guidance of manager Pearse Donnelly, Tullysaran are the most successful and progressive club in the county in the last 2 years. Junior League and Championship, promotion from Intermediate A to B at the first attempt and now 60 minutes away from Senior football as an Intermediate Championship title. The only blip in the Tullysaran run that has brought wins over Derrynoose, Mullaghbawn, Middletown and Silverbridge was their second half display against Mullaghbawn where they saw a 13 point lead whittled down to 2 and were lucky to escape with the win.

There is only 1 point between the finalists in terms of scores scored Tullysarran ahead by one with 6-55 in their 4 wins but it is Whitecross who are the clear winners defensively as they have only conceded a miserable 1-33 in their 4 wins in comparison to 7-43 let in by Tullysarran.

After a shaky start to their year Whitecross have become stronger and stronger with the championship clearly their focus. The return of county player Mark Shields is a huge boost as his performance in the semi-final win over Clan Na Gael verifies.

Tullysarran are a well drilled outfit with a clear system and style of football which they play to. John McKeown pulls the strings with Edward Mallon, Ciaran O’Riordan, Ryan McCreesh, Ryan and Aidan Conlon and Ciaran Mullen a few of the many helpers in what is generally a whole team performance.

Whitecross are a big strong side that can mix good football and physicality well and have a potent full forward line that might expose a back line that leaked 4 goals in one game. Whitecross defence will once again prove to be the Scrooge to end the fairytale run of Tullysaran.

How they got there

HOW THEY GOT THERE

Tullysaran 1-15 Derrynoose 1-12 Whitecross 0-11 St Peter’s 1-06

Tullysaran 2-15 Mullaghbawn 4-7 Whitecross 1-18 Clan Na Gael 0-9

Tullysaran 2-12 Middletown 1-13 Whitecross 4-15 An Port Mor 0-8

Tullysaran 1-13 Silverbridge 1-11 Whitecross 1-10 Clan Na Gael 0-10

For- 6-55 Agn-7-43 For- 6-54 Agn-1-33

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