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Rangers are where they want to be

September 25, 2012

Crossmaglen Rangers 1-16 Carrickcruppen 3-7

Gallant gutsy Carrickcruppen came close to causing a huge upset against reigning Armagh Ulster and All-Ireland Champions Crossmaglen Rangers but in the end it was the vast experience gained over the years by the champions which saw them cross the finishing line 1-16 to 3-7 in front.

Rangers, lining out without 6 of their All-Ireland winning side suffered another blow in the opening minutes as Paul Kernan went off with the troublesome shoulder injury which has dogged him this last 12 months.

Veteran Oisin McConville, making his first championship start of the year opened the scoring inside the opening minute.  Kyle Brennan doubled the lead, prior to the Kernan injury, which led to the introduction of Brendan McKeown.

A Declan Carville free opened the underdogs account before Cross hit 3 points in a row through Oisin, Martin Aherne and Aaron Cuningham, to make it 5-1 on 12 minutes.

Cruppen replied with 3 of their own points as Carville, Stephen Harold and Brendan Monaghan hit the target.

Two points on the trot, from Kyle Carragher, earned the Rangers a goal in front 7-4 on 20 minutes.  Johnny Hanratty riffled a left foot shot to the roof of the net, off very impressive goalkeeper John McCullough, to double the Cross lead.

A dangerous ball from Paul Keenan was punched rather than caught by Rangers keeper Paul Hearty, with the ball going to Carvile who needed no second chance to rattle the net for a tonic reply for Cruppen.

Cross came back with points from Cunningham and Brennan but it was Cruppen’s danger man Carville who had the last score of the half, a good point from an acute angle.  The drama was not over yet as a Monaghan screamer skimmed just outside the uprights with Hearty well beaten leaving the team heading to the changing rooms with Cross ahead 1-9 to 1-5.

Like the opening half, Cross were up and at it early in this half as Aaron Kernan, from a free, and then Hanratty sent over points.  Cruppen then enjoyed their best spell of the match which began with a litany of very bad wides as Keenan, Harold and Loughran were the guilty parties. Worse was to follow as Monaghan, in one on one with Hearty, blazed the ball high and made an altercation between the said two players followed which led to a small bit of unruliness amongst a host of players but thankfully never developed into anything sinister.

If anything the mellee inspired Cruppen as Carvile pointed a free just before Rangers introduced Jamie Clarke into the game.  The returned New Yorker nearly made a sensational entry, denied a goal, with his first touch by a super save by McCullough to deny him a goal.

Up the other end the net rattled as Hearty fumbled a catch to allow Keenan, the simpliest of task in prodding the ball into an empty net, to leave it 2-6 to 1-11.  Fourteen minutes into the half Kelly and Keenan combined to set up Frank Patton for a point as the Camlough outfit grew in confidence, coming within a point of the champions.

A bad wide from Aherne and a Clarke effort into the keepers hands, as Kelly was replaced by James Loughran by Cruppen.  Winning good possession all night, Kyle Carragher came to the forefront once again off bounding twice to the Maestro McConville who settled the cross with a brace of points their first scores in 19 minutes.

Paul McKeown and Mel Boyce were brought on in place of Brennan and Brendan McKeown, with Conor Sloan on for Cuppren as Keenan departed.  Winning good possession since his introduction Jamie Clarke scored a point to put Cross 1-14 to 2-7 ahead with 5 minutes left on the clock.  A foul on Clarke enabled Aaron Kernan stretch the lead to 5 points.

Cruppen had run out of steam and ideas as Cross used all their craft and guile to steer themselves from a precarious one point lead to relative safety, 1-15 to 2-7 ahead with time near up.  The rank outsiders who belied their odds battled gamely to the end and were awarded with a bizzare own goal as an attempted clearance was blocked and rebounded over Hearty into the net. Alas  for Cruppen it came too late to effect the final outcome, as in true Cross fashion they replied to the goal with former back Paul McKeown scoring the final point of the game.

The champions are in the final is all that matters to them. Of more concern will be their efforts to get their injured played back for their next instalment, a date with Pearse Og in the County final.

Crossmaglen Players: P Hearty, P Hughes, P Kernan, J Morgan, A Kernan (0-2), G Carragher, R Finnegan, J Hanratty (1-1), D McKenna (Capt), M Aherne (0-1), K Carragher (0-2), T Kernan, O McConville (0-4), A Cunningham (0-2), K Brennan (0-2) Subs: B McKeown for P Kernan, J Clarke (0-1) for Finnegan, P McKeown (0-1) for B McKeown, M Boyce for Brenna, C Cumiskey for T Kernan.

Carrickcruppen

J McCullough, T Bradley, B Loughran, K McHenry, D Kelly, J Magill, J Hughes, S Harold (0-1), BJ Padden, P Keenan, (0-1), M Patton (0-1), D Carville (1-4), C McCullough, P McCullough, D Monaghan (0-1) subs: J Loughran for Kelly, C Sloan for Keenan, C O’Grady for Patton.

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