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Lucozade Sport Armagh Senior Football Championship Review

September 7, 2010


GRANEMORE DEFEAT CHAMPIONS OGS

PEARSE OG 0-5 GRANEMORE 0-9

Inspired by the superb fielding of Kieran Toner and the class of Chrissie O’Connor Granemore pulled off the big shock by deservedly defeating reigning champions Pearse Og. A month or so ago this result was a pipe dream for Granemore as their second division promotion hopes looked in tatters following a couple of defeats. A lacklustre performance in beating Intermediate champions St Michael’s in the first round of the senior championship sparked new life into Granemore. Terrific league wins over their promotion rivals Armagh Harps and Ballymacnab brought back the confidence and swagger which was a feature of their good showing in last year’s championship. But at Abbey Park they faced the acid test in the shape of the defending county champions Pearse Og, who were once again minus their main talisman Ronan Clarke.To compound the champions problems two more forwards Sean Moore and Marc Cullen were ruled out through injury.

In the opening minute Chrissie O’Connor from a free gave the underdogs the lead. Seven minutes later Declan Doyle doubled that lead before a Declan McManus pointed free opened and closed the champions scoring for the half. Anthony Mullen from a free made it 3-1 before two super points inside a minute from Caolan Rafferty extended the lead to 5-1. A scoreless 17 minutes followed as Og’s clocked up the wides while under intense pressure from opposition full back Darren Hughes and impressive number 6 Martin Murphy. In added on time, half back Brendan Doyle ventured forward to end the scoring drought with the last score of the half which left the toothless champions trailing 6-1.

The out of sorts Ogs would surely come out a different proposition in the second half but just as in the first that man O’Connor from a free increased the lead.The same player jinked around four players to notch a very personal point and it was 8-1 as the Ogs wide count reached 11. Half back Tommy Turley showed his forwards how to score as he got the Og’s first point for a half an hour. Two minutes later an exhibition point with the outside of the boot from a free by O’Connor had Granemore heading for cruise control but this proved to be their last score of the game The midpoint of the half was to be disasterous for Granemore as a second yellow for Caolan Rafferty gave the Ogs an extra man for the final quarter. It was backs to the wall stuff from the challengers with every man putting in his shift to, in truth, easily repel a disfunctional Og’s attack that never produced a clear opportunity to grab the real lifeline of a much needed goal. Ross Clarke, from play, reduced the deficit but it was 12 minutes later that their next score arrived courtesy of a McManus free and the last score of the match from centre back Chris Rafferty came in the fifth minute of added on time.

The champions may have amassed 16 wides but they will be the first to acknowledge that they were soundly beaten on the night.This terrific win for Granemore has them in the last four and fearing nobody.

MICEAL POINTS THE WAY FOR DROMINTEE

BALLYMACNAB 0-11 DROMINTEE 2-12

In wet and windy conditions at a sparcly attended Cullyhanna Second Division leaders Ballymacnab were more than holding their own, level 0-11 to 2-5 with some 8 minutes remaining of their championship quarter final tussle with Dromintee.Miceal O’Rourke stepped up to the plate when needed with two pointed frees and a third on the trot from a sideline kick to launch Dromintee on a 7 point splurge to victory as the challengers faded badly in the final minutes. Gareth McCrink, Gareth O’Neill, substitute Kevin Dyas and finally Miceal O’Rourke added the last score of the match (his fifth) to put a flattering finale to what had been a struggle for a long time for the winners. The ‘Nab were out of the traps the quickest with the game’s top scorer with 0-6, Brian McCone, accounting for the opening three points of the game. Oliver Gaughran was on hand to avail of poor ‘Nab defending to raise the games first green flag to level matters but it did not deter the underdogs who replied with points from McCone, Paul Kennedy and Gavin McParland to restore their 3 point lead.

Eddie Martin soloed upfield to notch the first Dromintee point before disaster in the shape of a second goal arrived to undo all the ‘Nabs good work. Shane Carroll carried the ball in along the whole end line with everyone waiting for him to be put out over the line but he jinked his way past all challenges to plant the ball in the back of the ‘Nab net for a 2-1 to 0-6 lead that was never relinquished. The best score of the match followed from the boot of Rory Grugan to level things for the second time. In added time Miceal O’Rourke gave Dromintee an undeserved interval lead of 2-2 to 0-7.

Ten seconds after the restart full forward Martin O’Rourke extended the lead with a point. The closest the ‘Nab came to a goal followed as they had three poor shots at goal scrambled away to safety before Grugan combined with McCone who then pointed 2-3 to 0-8. Shane Carroll made it a two point game with a fine point before Martin O’Rourke fisted a point when baring down on goals 2-5 to 0-8 ten minutes into the second half. The ‘Nab with a trio of points from James Gray, McCone (free) and one from half time substitute Pauric Gribben, drew level but alas this seventeenth minute equalising point was to be the soon to be promoted side’s last score of the match as Droimintee took over as earlier described.

CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS 1-12 ARMAGH HARPS 3-4

The final scoreline flatters the losers as they played second fiddle all night on a night that the poor playing conditions weatherwise matched the fare on offer especially in the opening half. A slow start produced only 3 scores in the opening 20 minutes but by the time the interval arrived points from Jamie Clarke, Aaron Cunningham and the evergree Oisin McConvill (who finished Rangers top scorer with 0-5) helped Cross to a 0-6 to 0-2 half time lead. Harps points came from frees by Gareth Swift and Kevin Kelly.

One sensed that the match. needed an early Harps goal to get it going but the opposite happened as Stephen Kernan effectively killed the game as a contest when he slammed home the games opening three pointer. With Aaron Cunningham and McConville tacking on points the former champions were on their way to the last four. Joe Quigley threw Harps a lifeline with a converted penalty but Aaron Cunningham replied almost immediately with a point. As the game entered its final moments there was plenty of drama left. A second expertly dispatched penalty from Quigley was followed by an excellent Kevin Kelly goal but the whistle sounded after the last goal which had reduced the Rangers lead to just two points. Cross are in the last four with plenty of work still to do as for the second championship outing in a row they struggled big time at midfield. The Rangers lack of physicality in comparison to of old is also a concern but their application and ability to win break ball and give a good supply of quality ball to their forwards has gotten them through two rounds of the championship. With the semi-final draw on Wednesday night and the champions out of the equation the other four teams remaining, Dromintee, Granemore, St Patrick’s or Maghery will not want to be paired with the former kingpins.

* The fourth quarter final between St Patrick’s and Maghery is on Sat Sept 18th with the semi-finals pencilled in for the following weekend*


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