Lucozade Sport Armagh Senior Football Championship Review
August 31, 2010
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS v ARMAGH HARPS
All eyes were on the dethroned champions Crossmaglen Rangers in the last round as they took on Carrickcruppen. A 4-14 to 0-9 win for Rangers showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in this championship. Harps got a bye in the previous round which will not have helped their cause. Last year’s beaten finalists would have had promotion to the top division their priority this year but they have struggled in the league minus the services of their county men and even on their return the results have not been great. Still with 3 league games remaining 2 v St Michael’s and one against Silverbridge Harps to make the top flight in second place behind neighbours Ballymacnab.
Cross managed 4-14 against ’Cruppen despite getting a bit of a toasting at midfield. With David McKenna out injured and Francis Hanratty not starting Francie Bellew and Johnny Hanratty were at midfield. With Charlie Vernon operating at midfield for Harps it will be interesting to see who will be 8 & 9 for Cross. Rangers have been dealt another blow with the possible loss of full back Paul Kernan who may miss out through suspension. Harps failed to raise a flag in the second half of the final defeat to Og’s who snuffed out the threat of the Toal’s, Swift, Kevin Kelly and Ultan Lennon and Rangers will be hoping to repeat that feat. At the other end Tyrone’s Collie Holmes and his corner men Morris and McConville will have their hands full trying to cope with the evergreen still very dangerous Oisin McConville flanked by Jamie Clarke and Kyle Carragher. Cross have Francis Hanratty and Mickey McNamee to slot into their starting 15 from the last day. On the Silverbridge showing the Rangers conveyor belt of talent is far from weaning as they displayed a different style of football which was fast, bright and inventive, supplying the ball with speed instead of possession play.
Harps physicality will cause Cross a few problems but Rangers have a lot of options to change things in terms of onfield switches or substitutions. Harps are in a win win situation with little expected of them and possess a squad of players who, on their day, can put it up to anybody. Allthough there is a big gulf between the teams in Rangers favour on league form this will be a close run affair with Cross edging what could be a terrific match.
BALLYMACNAB v DROMINTEE
Star studded Dromintee were far from their best when eliminating Whitecross 1-10 to 0-12 in the last round. The winners though, lost 5 players through injury during the course of that match which is bound to disrupt any pattern of play. A Gavin McParland inspired Ballymacnab were coasting against Killeavy who hit back to get within a goal before the Nab regained composure to see out a 1-14 to 1-10 victory.
Just needing one point from their remaining 3 matches to gain promotion to the First Division anything now that happens for Ballymacnab in the championship is bonus territory, especially given that their win over Killeavy was their first ever in Senior championship. With Rory Grugan and Paul Kennedy to return to the team the ’Nab certainly have the talent and ability and the nothing to lose all to gain attitude to give a really good account of themselves. The league loss to rivals Granemore which put the champagne on ice for a little longer may have dimmed confidence a little for the ’Nab.
Another showing like the last one and Dromintee will be out of the championship probably goes without saying but credit must go to the losers Whitecross who played well on the night but could not put away the chances. Defense over the years has never been a problem for Dromintee it is in atack that they have failed to consistantly produce given the amount of ball they receive. Their opposition on the other hand have been scoring for fun all year. This has all the hallmarks of being a classic encounter if playing conditions are ideal.
The ’Nab are coming up against one of the better sides in the competition and will find the step up that little bit too much for them. Their full back line looked a little suspect when Killeavy piled on the pressure and I expect Dromintee to up the ante and produce a lot more than in the last round to reach the last four.
PEARSE OG v GRANEMORE
Pearse Og 3-15 Mullaghbawn 0-5 was a lot, lot easier than the understrength holders would have expected in the first round. The champions were very impressive (despite missing a quartet of regulars) even though the challengers were way off what’s expected at this level.
Granemore were last year’s talked about championship side but were far from impressive in their 1-9 to 1-4 opening round win over St Michael’s this year. Imigration and the loss of their county men curtailed their league campaign as they look set to miss out on promotion to Division One. Kieran Toner, at midfield, could cause the champions some concern as will the recent confidence boosting wins over promotion rivals Armagh Harps and Ballymacnab since their championship victory.
At full strength this would be a big ask for Granemore and their losses will take it’s toll as the champions have too much in hand even if they are still minus a few regulars to slip up at this stage of the competition. Og’s to see off a stern test of their credentials.