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Peter’s edge a tight affair

October 22, 2018 

● Intermediate Championship Final St Peter’s 1-11 Mullaghbawn 1-10

Five unanswered points in a 10 minute second half spell gave St. Peter’s a four point cushion which they held onto until four minutes of added time had elapsed when Mullaghbawn with the clock against them, got a goal to cut the deficit to the minimum 1-11 to 1-10, which proved to be the games last score, which enable Peter’s to capture their first Atty Hearty Cup in 37 years.  Read more

Donal O’Hare is the Star Man

October 15, 2018 

Donal O Hare was the star of the show as Burren denied Kilcoo a piece of “seventh heaven” as their bid for a record 7 Down Senior titles in succession were scuppered in the main by a 2-5 haul for Man of the Match O’Hare.  Twelve months ago, Kilcoo matched Burren’s 1980s’ feat but a year on, Paddy O’Rourke’s side gained sweet revenge. Burren’s victory saw them lifting the Frank O’Hare Cup for the 14th time which leaves them two behind Kilcoo’s record haul. Read more

Double header at the Atletic Grounds

October 15, 2018 

Armagh GAA Cormac Leonard Commercials Championship

The Athletic Grounds Armagh, looks set to play host to a huge crowd on Sunday next as both the Cormac Leonard Commercials sponsored Armagh Senior and Intermediate Football Finals will be played. The opening game is the IFC Final @1.45pm featuring Mullaghbawn Cúchullain’s v St. Peter’s, Lurgan with referee Philip Conway in charge. The SFC Final is at 4.00pm when Ballymacnab Round Towers take on Crossmaglen Rangers with Ollie Hearty as referee. Read more

Armagh off to Páirc Esler to take on Down

October 15, 2018 

U.S.F.C.2019

Kieran McGeeney will take his Armagh squad to Newry to take on Down, (now under new manager Paddy Tally) in the quarter -final of the 2019 Ulster Senior Football Championship. Read more

Crossmaglen Camogs eye Ulster Title

October 8, 2018 

Crossmaglen Rangers Camogie club reformed a senior team back in 2012, having had a few lean years without a  team. They contested the Junior Championship in each year since 2012 but success was difficult to come by until 2017.   Read more

Armagh GAA Cormac Leonard Commercials Championship

October 8, 2018 

 ● Intermediate Championship

Mullaghbawn topple Tones

Mullaghbawn 0-18 Wolfe Tones 0-10

Mullaghbawn comfortable saw off the semi-final challenge to book their place in the Intermediate final since they last won the title in 1992.  Read more

Ross McQuillan named in top 20 from the EirGrid U20 All-Ireland Championship

October 1, 2018 

Congratulations to St Patrick’s, Cullahanna and Armagh star Ross McQuillan who announced in the Top 20 players from the EirGrid U20 All Ireland Championship. Read more

Armagh GAA Cormac Leonard Commercials Championship

October 1, 2018 

 ● Senior Championship

The form book was certainly franked when it came down to the last 4 in the Championship, as the 4 group winners Ballymacnab, St. Patrick’s, Cullyhanna, Crossmaglen Rangers and Maghery Seán MacDiarmada were also the top four finishers in the Senior League Div 1 A. So with 3 groups wins each the ‘Nab, Cross and Pat’s went through to the last 8 with a 100% record Maghery recorded 2 wins and a draw. League champions Ballymacnab will take on last years beaten finalists Maghery in one semi whilst South Armagh near neighbours and arch rivals Crossmaglen Rangers will take on St Patrick’s Cullyhanna. If the League meetings between the teams are anything to go by we are in for two terrific semi-finals.

Crossmaglen Rangers v St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna Sun Oct 7 @ Athletic Grounds 5 pm

The dream Co Final is now a semi-final as it was in 2016 when the parishes of Upper and Lower Creggan last met in the Championship. St Pat’s inflicted a shock second Championship defeat in 20 years 1-15 to 0-17 on Crossmaglen Rangers who were seeking a seventh Co title in a row. Pat’s went on to lose the final 1-13 to 0-13 to Maghery.

Team captain at the time and still an integral part of the current team veteran Mal Mackin flicked home a third minute of added time goal that day to stun Cross but it was Aidan Nugent who was the star man for the winners as he hit 10 points, 8 frees. A year later and St Pat’s exited the 2017 Championship following a replay quarter final loss 1-10 to 0-9 to eventual champions Armagh Harps following a 1-10 apiece draw. With a back door system in place Cross were twice beaten by Maghery losing early on 3-7 to 1-8 and then in the semi-final 2-13 to 0-16. 

A two year absence without even a County Final appearance saw Cross amazingly cast aside as potential 2018 champions in many quarters. Neighbours St Pat’s now under the guidance of former Monaghan star Eamon McEneaney were on everyone’s lips as early as February, ever before a League ball was kicked. Ballymacnab edged out St Pat’s on scoring difference as the Cullyhanna boys showed their promise with just 3 League losses out of 14. On top of that Pat’s did the double over Cross winning away 2-12 to 0-17 and at home 2-14 to 1-10.

Championship action in Group D for the Pat’s was all too easy as they chalked up 3 big wins 3-16 to 2-11 over Pearse Óg, 2-18 to 0-7 against Tir Na oNg before winning the group and a place in the quarter finals with a 3-17 to 0-7 win over Granemore. Neighbours Silverbridge were their last 8 opponents and they were dismissed 2-13 to 0-7.

Ironically Cross began Group B life with a struggling 0-12 to 0-11 win over Sliverbridge and followed up with another one point win 2-16 to 2-15 over Madden. A youthful Clann Eireann came to Cross looking to follow up their 1-16 to 0-10 League win on the same pitch in this Group decider but Rangers were a different animal, winning convincingly 4-15 to 0-7 with the heavy defeat knocking their opponents out of the Championship on scoring averages following their huge loss. Armagh city rivals Harps were next up for Cross with the former county kingpins rolling back the years with a performance which proved that “rumours of Crossmaglen Rangers demise have been greatly exaggerated” as they ran out 2-22 to 1-15 winners. Appointed late 2017 the new Rangers management team of Kieran Donnelly, Donal Murtagh, Francis Fitzpatrick and Micéal Moley have had to blend youth with experience as they faced a huge injury crisis throughout the year and still have problems in that department ahead of next Sunday’s match. Goalkeeper Jamie McEvoy has been an impressive replacement for the retired Paul Hearty with his kick-outs very impressive. Aaron Smylie has slotted in well and Alan Farrelly, Stephen Morris and Johnny McKeever have gained a lot more experience. When it comes to experience Aaron Kernan, Rico Kelly, Mickey McNamee, Kyle Carragher and a much leaner Johnny Hanratty have plenty. The return of Garbhan Carragher, Paudi Stuttard and the O’Neill brothers Oisin and Rian to the starting 15 has brought a new dimension to Cross.

Talking of new dimensions one has to look no further than the impact manager McEneaney has made since taking over the Pat’s. A new look defence which has only conceded 7 points in each of their last 3 Championship outings has been the foundation upon which they have been able to score at will from all over the field as their 10-64 in their 4 Championship games played to date proves. The full back line of Francie O’Rourke, Sean Og Irwin and Kieran McCooey have provided great cover for goalkeeper Deaglan McArdle. Experience in abundance in a half back line made up of two former county men Ciaran McKeever, Mickey Murray and Barry McConville. Shane Conlon and Pearse Casey cover a tremendous amount of ground from midfield but it is in attack that Pat’s have improved as they are able to switch about their sextet of forwards with telling results. Again youth Jason Duffy and the very speedy and talented Ross McQuillan combined with vastly flanked by experience edge of the square Mal Mackin flanked by Eugene Casey and add Conor and Aidan Nugent into the mix which thus far has proved a recipe for success.

Verdict- The tactical take on this match will decide it. Will Pats be able to use their bigger physical presence to good effect, can Rangers kick passing and quick low ball delivery to their forwards UN-nerve the Pat’s rearguard, will Aaron Kernan be man marked and likewise McQuillan. Will Pat’s last semi-final win over Cross give them the confidence to go out and express themselves from the off. Loads of intrigue even before the ball is thrown-in.

The last Championship meeting was a physical battle which Cross stood up to very well and despite being reduced to 14 men for the last quarter were still in front until a goalkeeping error saw them lose with the last play of the match. Again with so much at stake lack of discipline could again prove very costly. A mouthwatering, look forward to game in prospect with Rangers better experience of the “big days” to get them over the line as their key men will relish the opportunity to get back to another final.

Ballymacnab v Maghery Fri Oct 5 @ Athletic Grounds 8-30pm

Ballymacnab are seeking a return to the final for the first time since losing 2-22 to 0-3 to Cross in 2011. Maghery are bidding to contest their third final in a row having beaten St Pat’s in 2016 before surrendering their title to Harps last year.

The ‘Nab on home soil won their first League meeting 1-11 to 0-10 and then went to Maghery for the return which finished in a terrific 2-13 apiece draw. The League champions pushed on in the Championship and in their four games won to date have scored a massive 11-55 as Sarsfields 3-14 to 1-11, Whitecross 5-17 to 0-2 and Dromintee 2-14 to 2-9 were all beaten in the Group A before a 1-10 to 0-3 quarter final win over Killeavy

Maghery began life in Group C with a 2-14 to 0-6 win over Killeavy before being surprisingly held 1-9 to 0-12 by Annaghmore. In the top of the group clash at home to Harps the Loughshoremen edged home 0-12 to 0-11 to set up a quarter final date with Madden. In a one sided encounter Maghery were easy winners 2-16 to 0-4.

Monaghan’s Bernie Murray has his Ballymacnab charges playing good intelligent attacking football spearheaded by their 3 county players the Grugan brothers Rory and Jack and Gavin McParland. But the growing in confidence ‘Nab boast more quality players in the likes of Ryan Kennedy, Ruairi Gribben, Michael Beagan (Capt), Paul Meegan, Cormac McKee, Oisin McGivern and Brendan Toner.

Whilst the Forker brothers, Aidan, Stefan and Paul along with Conor Mackle, Stephen Cusack and Ronan Lappin have been to the forefront in recent outings negating the loss of injured midfielder Ben Crealey. Goalkeeper Johnny Montgomery along with Ciaran Higgins and James Lavery along with the rest of their teammates are grateful for the contribution of rising young stars Oisin Cusnahan and Brian McIllmurray along with a few others who are trying to break into the starting 15 as manager Shane McConville has definitely increased his options from the bench over the last 2 years.

Verdict- This is the acid test for the ‘Nab as they faced seasoned campaigners Maghery who are looking for a third consecutive final appearance. Having ousted Cross in the semis last year the defending champions lost out in the final to Armagh Harps. That loss was avenged in the Group stage of the Championship. The two semi-finalists will not have gotten much benefit (except a win) from their respective quarter final victories as the quality of opponents for both fell well short of the standard expected on the night. While all eyes may be on the other semi this may turn out to be the pick of the two with both teams very capable of playing open attacking football. Nab have been winning a lot of ball in the midfield sector which has helped them chalk up some big scores although their manager will not be happy with them taking their foot off the pedal in a scoreless 20 minutes in the second half against Killeavy. Cool heads will have to be the order of the day as a few of the stars on view carry short fuses which need to be lengthened if a Co Final place is to be won. Ballymacnab whose hitherto cohesion as a team unit will be put to the test by a more physical Maghery have shown great maturity as a team so far this year and have recorded a number of firsts in terms of playing successes. This will be a close run affair as Maghery are a far better side than people give them credit having made the breakthrough 3 years ago. For me the time is right for Ballymacnab to make the breakthrough and reach their second final in 8 years. 

 ● Intermediate Championship

Three of the four semi-finalists in the Intermediate all played in Intermediate A with St Peter’s winning the league and promotion to Senior football next year. No doubt they would like to add the championship to complete the double but standing in their way are Intermediate B League champions Shane O’Neill’s who won 8 drew 3 and lost 3 of their league games. Mullaghbawn and Wolfe Tones who were in the bottom half of the league, both managing 7 league wins each. 

When the round robin championship based on league finishing positions was introduced eventual semi-finalists Shanes and Tones both qualified out of the B Group with St Peter’s and Mullaghbawn both coming out of Group D.

Peter’s will be bidding for a third title following wins in 1968,1981 and their most recent final appearance was in 2012 when they lost to Killeavy 0-13 to 0-8.. Mullaghbawn’s lone success was back in 1992 whilst Shane O’Neill’s and Wolfe Tones are looking for a final berth for the first time. Of the 4 left in the race for the title Peter’s would have been touted from the off as possible champions, so credit to the other 3 teams Mullaghbawn, Shane O Neill’s and Wolfe Tones, all of whom outside of their own circle would not have been seen as potential champions.

Mullaghbawn v Wolfe Tones Fri Oct 5 @Athletic Grounds 6-45pm.

Third, and most important meeting of the year between these two teams having shared league wins as the respective home teams won Wolfe Tones 0-17 Mullaghbawn 2-10, Mullaghbawn 2-14 Wolfe Tones 1-10. In the championship group stages one win 1-16 to 0-10 over Tullysaran following losses to Clonmore 2-11 to 1-10 and St Peter’s 1-18 to 1-9 saw Mullaghbawn successfully through to the last 16.

It is only when they reached the straight knock-out stages of the championship that Mullaghbawn began to show their true potential racking up 2-29 in two games with the concession of just 7 points in each win. As “underdogs” in both games they out gunned hot favourites and fellow South Armagh rivals Culloville 1-18 to 0-7 and then followed up with a 1-11 to 0-7 quarter-final victory over near neighbours Forkhill to set up meeting with Wolfe Tones to win a place in the Oct 20/21 final.

Wolfe Tones qualified in third place from Group D following a whopping 4-13 to 1-13 over St Paul’s having lost their 2 previous games to Forkhill 2-15 Wolfe Tones 3-11 and Shane O Neill’s 2-11 Wolfe Tones 1-8. The last 16 games saw the Derrymacash outfit outgun Crossmaglen Rangers 0-16 to 0-12 (the sides level at 7 all at half time) to set up a derby game with Clan Na Gael which they won 0-14 to 0-11.

The 2 league meetings between these teams will have no significance come Friday night as the respective league teams were a lot different from those that will start this semi-final. Tones had no fewer than 8 different scorers against a very youthful Clans who were minus the services of Niall Henderson and Stefan Campbell. With Ryan McQuillan, Ruairi McCaughey and the evergreen Finnian Moriarty to the forefront Conal Lavery (2), Niall Geoghan, James Martin, Paudie & Tiernan Judge, Matthew Hagan, Declan Lavery and Jamie Haughey fetched the match winning scores. Former Down minor Declan Lavery is a doubt for the semi, having come off injured in the last match.

As the championship progressed so have Mullaghbawn as a number of quality players have become available following injury. Conor Tierney, who missed their last game is their main injury concern ahead of Friday night. The return of Shea Loye, Declan Loye, Gerard Doherty has certainly helped as Mullaghbawn impressed in their derby wins over Culloville and Forkhill. With County Senior Eddie English to the fore in attack the offense has more added quality in Eoghan McDonnell , Shea Loye and the very experienced Kieran Grant to get the match winning scores with former county star Eugene McVerry hoping to be fit to at least make the bench. Midfielders Cormac Smyth and Gerard Doherty ably dealt with the Stephen Sheridan threat last time. A workmanlike Mullaghbawn defence with Niall Ward, Barry McKinley, Shane McParland Patrick Tiernan and Ferghal Mackin giving great protection to goalkeeper Brendan Murphy have only allowed their last two opponents pilfer 7 points apiece.

Outsiders in the betting in their last two games, the tables have turned a little on Mullaghbawn as they now carry the favourites tag. A relatively young side facing a more experienced Tones it could all come down to who settles the quickest on Friday night and which team gets their man marking tactics right. Mullaghbawn, to their credit negated the impact the 3 county players on duty for Forkhill which went a long way towards victory, their opponents will be hoping to do the same to the Mullaghbawn attack. This will be a tight game with little in it at the final whistle with the result resting on which defence copes best with their opponents forte -their attacks. Verdict- Mullaghbawn to prevail and progress to their first Intermediate final in 26 years.

Shane O’Neill’s v St Peter’s Sun Oct 7 @ Athletic Grounds 3-15pm.

The clash of the respective League winners looks set to produce another quality game as Peter’s already assured of Senior Football next year, like their opponents Shanes have eyes on the elusive double-Championship & League.

In the league Peter’s lost their opening game to Wolfe Tones 1-013 to 1-10 but then went 9 unbeaten before losing at home to Culloville 0-14 to 2-9 and then went on to claim promotion and the league title. Drawn in Group D along with Clonmore, Mullaghbawn and Tullysaran, surprisingly Peter’s did not top the group as they were beaten by Clonmore 2-13 to 1-12 but with wins over Tullysaran 1-16 to 0-10 and 1-18 to 1-9 over Mullaghbawn they finished second and faced Eire Og in the last 16 A one sided derby was won 2-17 to 1-6 by the Peters which set up a quarter-final date with Middletown. St Peter’s recovered from the concession of a first minute goal and led 1-7 to 1-2 at half-time. The winners shaded the second half 1-5 to 0-7 to end up 2-12 to 1-9 winners with Niall Creaney and Ferghal Moore raising the green flags. Along with the two goalscorers Niall McConville, Emmett Haughian, Shea Geraghty are key components for the championship favourites.

This championship semi-final appearance will be seen as bonus territory for Shanes whose main aim for the season would have been a return to Intermediate A League football. With 8 wins 3 draws and 3 losses to their credit the League title found its way to Camlough along with a place in Group B of the championship. Shanes began championship action with a 0-16 to 0-10 home win over St Paul’s and followed up with a 2-11 to 1-8 win at Wolfe Tones. A surprise 1-14 to 2-7 home loss to Forkhill enabled that match winner top the group sending Shane’s into a last 16 match with Grange. A tight, close run affair was won by the minimum 0-16 to 2-9 to set up a quarter-final match with Clonmore. In yet another nip and tuck close encounter Shanes overcame a 2 point second half deficit 3 times before reaching the last four 0-15 to 0-13. County player Connaire Mackin was the star man against Clonmore knocking over an impressive 8 points whilst he fellow county teammate Gregory McCabe was immense in defence and with David & Mark McCabe along with Kristan Magill & Paul O’Rourke part of a lively attack. Defenders David Boyle, Michael McParland, Nathan Morgan, Michael Brady, Peter O’Brien and Padraig Hillen are providing great cover for goalkeeper Conor Ruddy. Workmanlike midfielders Ciaran Mackin and Mark Feehan will make sure that Peter’s will have to produce their very best if they are to overcome a confident Shanes.

Whilst Peter’s are the hot favourites Shane’s certainly have the players and ammunition to cause an upset. Discipline is an issue with both sides and any lapses in this department could prove very costly. Verdict- Peter’s all year have proved a step above their opponents and their impressive form to continue by winning a place in the final.

 ● JUNIOR Championship

An Port Mór v Keady Sat Oct 6 @ Athletic Grounds 7pm

At the start of the year, ever before a ball was kicked, the two teams who have advanced to the Junior Championship final Keady and An Port Mór were well fancied to win the title. A perfect League record for Keady 18 played 18 won and 14 League wins for An Port Mór strengthened the belief that the championship final would be a straight contest between the duo and so it has proven to be. Keady won away 2-8 to 1-9 and then beat Saturday’s final opponents 0-17 to 1-5 in the return league fixture in Keady.

Keady enter this final as firm favourites to annex their sixth Junior crown following wins in 1925,1927,1933, 1976 and their most recent success in 2014. Opponents An Port Mór have already made history by becoming the first Armagh club to win the Ulster Club Junior Football Championship, back in 2012 following victory 2-9 to 0-11 over Tyrone champions Brackaville at Pairc Esler Newry. That Ulster title win followed their third Junior title with 2006 and 1991 the other title years. Blackwatertown were crowned Junior champs back in 1954. Verdict- Keady have only suffered one defeat all year their second won’t come as they complete a League and Championship double, but An Port Mór will not be easy beat. 

Honours even in Mourne ultimatum

September 24, 2018 

Irish Premier League Newry City 1 Warrenpoint Town 1

While there was a lot of very important sporting occasions throughout the district over the weekend the one which captured the imagination was the game which was dubbed the Mourne Ultimatum. Read more

Armagh GAA Cormac Leonard Commercials Championship

September 24, 2018 

Senior

Holders knocked-out of Championship

Crossmaglen Rangers 2-22 Armagh Harps 1-15

Holders Armagh Harps bowed out of the championship as old nemesis Crossmaglen Rangers were faster out of the blocks and were 9-1 up inside 18 minutes and but for wastefulness could have been even further ahead. Read more

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