Errigal Bogey laid to rest

November 20, 2012

Crossmaglen Rangers 2-10 Errigal Ciaran 0-10

Just over 24 hours earlier Crossmaglen Rangers bade a fond farewell to their loyal and faithful former assistant manager and staunch Ranger Ollie McEntee and honoured his memory by laying to rest their Errigal Ciaran bogey with a powerful dominant second half performance at a very chilly Clones venue.

The enforced change on Cross from the previous week as Kevin McKeown replaced flu victim Paul Hearty between the sticks meant that Oisin McConville was the only survivor from the matches in 1997 and 2002 against the Tyrone champions who boasted an unbeaten record in 4 outings (2 wins, 2 draws) against the current dual Ulster and All-Ireland champions. To this current Cross team this was just a mere statistic that needed righting.

Johnny Hanratty combined with the three Kernan brothers Aaron, Stephen then Tony to set Jamie Clarke for a goal chance inside 20 seconds but the mercurial forward saw his goal attempt hit the underside of the crossbar and cleared to safety. Straight down at the other end Kevin McKeown whose last Ulster Championship outing was in 2006 in a 2-13 to 1-7 win over Mullahoran (Cavan) did extremely well under a high ball handled it before being fouled. The understudy with 12 Armagh Championships, 6 Ulster and 3 All-Ireland medals under his belt was not found wanting on the big occasion varying his kick-outs when needed with excellent distribution of the ball a reward for his patience and dedication given that his opportunities have been few and far between.

Cross swept upfield from the free out for the foul on their goalkeeper with corner Back Paul McKeown getting on the end of a sublime pass from Stephen Kernan only to be fouled before he could shoot enabling Oisin McConville to open the scoring from the resulting free. A converted free from Darren Canavan following a foul on Ronan McRory brought the equaliser on 4 minutes before another foul on McRory following a terrific 5 man move allowed Thomas Canavan gave Errigal the lead. A second from Canavan, from play, stretched the lead to 3-1 on 11 minutes as the Tyrone outfit dominated around the middle. A minute later raiding corner back Paul Hughes followed up last week’s point with another to reduce the deficit to 3-2 but the lead was soon doubled as Ciaran McGinley pointed from play. Experienced Tyrone keeper John Devine got caught out with a short pass that Clarke intercepted drawing a foul converted by McConville 4-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Inside a minute Errigal added two points to stretch their lead to a goal. Firstly Paul Kernan was harshly penalised for picking the ball off the ground Canavan converted then the McGinley’s Cormac and Ciaran combined to set up Canavan for his second point of the half 6-3 on 19 minutes. Two minutes later Cross were back on level terms after raising a green flag. Paul Kernan was fouled and delivered the free long to his brother Stephen who launched a high ball into the square to Jamie who despite the close attention of 3 defenders deftly put the ball past Devlin for the game’s first goal. Minutes later despite being fouled, Clarke tagged on a point for Cross to lead 1-4 to 0-6 with 5 minutes to go to the short whistle. It was the Tyrone side that pushed on to the break as McRory and Canavan, both from play, gave the perfect reply to the Rangers goal. A rattled Cross showed a very rare sign of panic as they hit 4 wides on the trot with Oisin missing followed by one from substitute Mickey McNamee, just on for Aaron Cunningham, then skipper David McKenna got in on the act and just not to be a fish out of water Martin Aherne brought the half to a close with Rangers fifth wide with Errigal hitting 3.

Cross were out early for the second half with a sting in their tail as they looked to impose their game on the challengers who had dictated matters for most of the opening half. The black and amber brigade swarmed all over Errigal from the throw-in dominating possession for the entire half but were not registering their superiority on the scoreboard. Pointed frees from Oisin and Aaron Kernan edged Cross back in front 1-6 to 0-8 and from then on they were never headed. Paul Kernan cleared out of defence to Aherne who offloaded to Oisin who doubled the lead on 41 minutes. As Earrigal struggled to get meaningful possession Cross piled on the pressure but no scores as a barren 9 minute spell was broken as Paul Quinn misplaced a pass directly to Stephen Kernan who was fouled by Ciaran Quinn (yellow card) leaving Oisin to convert to make it 1-8 to 0-8 with 10 minutes left in the game. A sweeping Errigal move saw McRory notch their first score from the re-start after twenty minutes to keep them in contention just 2 points in arrears. Jamie Clarke sent Johnny Hanratty through one on one with Devine but the keeper smothered his hesitant goal attempt. A minute later Aaron Kernan sent Johnny through the Errigal defence with players overlapping on either side it looked as if the Rangers man had carried the ball into trouble but despite being fouled he got the ball to his Captain who put the game to bed by smashing the ball to the roof of the net 2-8 to 0-9.

Errigal’s best player Peter Harte careered forward for a great solo point his team’s second and last score of the half. Tony Kernan from play made it 2-9 to 0-10 as Cross emptied their substitute’s bench. A foul on Tony Kernan saw brother Stephen score to end the scoring leaving Cross comfortably through to their tenth Provincial final. It may have been a chilly day in Clones but there was a warm glow in the overhead sky at the final whistle as the former mentor began his eternal rest with a broad grin and no doubt a few more converted Cross Rangers before the upcoming final. Cross will face first time finalists Kilcoo who upset the St Gall’s applecart which will leave the Rangers seeking back to back victories over the champions of Down having beaten Burren last year.

Crossmaglen Rangers – K McKeown,  P Hughes  (0-1),  P Kernan,  P.McKeown;  A Kernan (0-2) , J Morgan, M Aherne;  J Hanratty,  D McKenna (1-0) , T Kernan (0-1) , S Kernan (0-1), A Cunningham;  O McConville (0-4) , J Clarke (1-1), K Carragher Subs- M McNamee for Cunningham, C. Cumiskey for Carragher, K Brennan for McConville. P Grant for Clarke, R Finnegan for Aherne.

Errigal Ciaran-J. Devine; A.McCrory, M McCrory, C Quinn; S Tierney, P Harte (0-1), D Harte , Cormac McGinley, E McGinley; Ciaran McGinley (0-1), T Canavan (0-3) , P Quinn, D Canavan (0-3), B Horisk , R McRory (0-2) Subs- J Kelly for P Quinn