Crossmaglen collect their 39th Armagh title with a massive win

October 18, 2011

Crossmaglen Rangers 2-22 Ballymacnab  0-03

Reigning All-Ireland, Ulster and Armagh champions Crossmaglen Rangers retained the first of their three trophies when they easily defeated underdogs Ballymacnab in the Armagh Senior Football Championship final at Morgan Athletic Grounds, Armagh, on Sunday afternoon.

This was Crossmaglen’s 39th Armagh title and their 15th in 16 years to go along with their 9 Ulster and 5 All-Ireland wins.  Their opponents, Ballymacnab were playing in their first ever Senior final, having won the Junior in 1999, Intermediate in 2006 and just promoted to Division One of the All-County League at the end of last season.

The losers much vaunted forward line was held scoreless from play by the strong Crossmaglen rearguard.  Their only score from play was a point from their corner-back, Chris Loughran, seven minutes from the end, with Rory Grugan posting over their other two points from frees.

Crossmaglen had winners all over the field whilst the only Ballymacnab player who stood out was their captain and goalkeeper, Sean Hughes, who was in brilliant form and made a number of outstanding saves including a penalty from Stephen Kernan.

David McKenna, who was in commanding form in the middle of the field, for Crossmaglen collected the “Man-of-the-Match” award and Bill McCorry Cup.  The 6’ 4” midfielder was ably assisted by his lion-hearted partner Johnny Hanratty.

The winners had eight points on the scoreboard before Rory Grugan had the opening score for Ballymacnab with a point from a free kick after 18 minutes.  The Crossmaglen marksmen being Stephen Kernan, Aaron Kernan (2), Michael McNamee, Tony Kernan, Aaron Cunningham (2) and Johnny Hanratty.

The Rangers added further points from Michael McNamee (2), David McKenna and Aaron Cunningham to lead by 0-12 to 0-1 at the interval.

Two points from Aaron Cunningham increased this lead before Rory Grugan got Ballymacnab’s second point from another free kick, and Cunningham posted another over for Crossmaglen.

Substitute Kyle Brennan soon made his presence felt for Crossmaglen when he entered the fray in the 41st minute and with his very first touch of the ball he managed to get on the end of a passing movement involving Aaron and Stephen Kernan to fire the ball past the heroic Hughes in the Ballymacnab goals.

Johnny Hanratty and Aaron Cunningham were to add further points for Crossmaglen before Hanratty collected, to race through the Ballymacnab defence, to slot the ball to the net.

Further points from Tony Kernan, Aaron Kernan, Oisin McConville, Stephen Kernan and Francis Hanratty saw the champions coast home with Ballymacnab’s response being a point from play by the corner back Chris Loughran.

After the game the Crossmaglen captain, Stephen Kernan, was presented with the Gerry Fagan cup by County Chairman Paul Duggan.

Ballymacnab will be disappointed with their display whilst the Crossmaglen juggernaut with the Rolls Royce engine will roll into Casement Park on Sunday week for their Ulster Championship quarter-final joist with St Galls.  What an encounter this should be.

Aaron Kernan delighted

Immediately after the game Aaron Kernan said he was really delighted with the win as they had prepared well for this final.

“It hurt us lose to in the county championship two years ago but the new management of Gareth (O’Neill) and Tony (McEntee) and trainer Seamus (McGeown) has brought us to a new level.  They want us to enjoy our football.

“They gave us a template, instruct us to keep things simple and all we have to do is stick to the game plan and I can tell you we are enjoying our football.

“We need to still continue to improve as we cannot afford to stand still.”

When asked about their next game, which is against St Gall’s on Sunday week, Kernan replied “This game is a role reversal for both teams as St Gall’s came to Crossmaglen as Ulster and All-Ireland title holders last year and in a fortnight’s time we, as reigning Provincial and All-Ireland champions go up to Belfast to play the Antrim side and I can assure you that we will be taking nothing for granted in that game.”

Scorers for Crossmaglen – Johnny Hanratty (1-2), Aaron Kernan (0-5), Aaron Cunningham (0-5), Kyle Brennan (1-0), Michael McNamee (0-3), Stephen Kernan (0-2), Tony Kernan (0-2), Oisin McConville (0-1), David McKenna (0-1), Francis Hanratty (0-1).

Scorers for Ballymacnab – Rory Grugan (0-2, 2 frees); Chris Loughran (0-1).

Crossmaglen Rangers: Paul Hearty; Paul McKeown, Paul Kernan, James Morgan; Aaron Kernan, Danny O’Callaghan, Stephen Finnegan; Johnny Hanratty, David McKenna; Tony Kernan, Stephen Kernan (Cat.), Aaron Cunningham, Jamie Clarke, Francis Hanratty, Michael McNamee.

Substitutes – Kyle Brennan for Michael McNamee, Mickey Lenaghan for Aaron Cunningham, Martin Aherne for Jamie Clarke, Oisin McConville for Tony Kernan.

Ballymacnab: Sean Hughes (Capt.); Chris Loughran, Dwane McParland, Dominic McParland; Barry O’Hare, Paudie Crilly, Kevin Beagan; Pauric Gribben, Richard Gribben; James Gray, Rory Grugan, Joseph Gribben; Brian McCone, Gavin McParland, Ryan Kennedy.

Substitutes – Gary McKee for Richard Gribben, Michael Beagan for James Gray and Chris Kennedy for Dwane McParland.

Referee: Michael Leonard (St Pater’s)

In the Minor Championship final which preceded the senior game Armagh Harps defeated city rivals Pearse Og by eight points on a scoreline of 3-11 to 0-12 in their favour.