Champions Cross Contenders
Armagh Senior Football Club Championship
The big game of round two of the Armagh Senior Championship is the meeting of champions Maghery and Crossmaglen Rangers. The Champions face the leading contenders for their throne on Friday night at the Athletic Ground which should certainly bring the championship to life following a very mediocre opening round. A 9 point haul without reply surged Maghery from struggling against Madden to a position of strength 14-4. The challengers battle gamely but were eventually beaten 1-19 to 1-10 as the champions scaled the first hurdle.
Crossmaglen Rangers inspired by a Rian O’Neill show (0-10) will be alarmed by their eventual minimum margin 0-17 to 1-13 win over Whitecross after leading at the short whistle 0-13 to 0-4. A Whitecross 1-6 without reply in the second half had it a 3 point game with 3 minutes left but the rank outsiders came up a point short when the final whistle sounded.
Cross have a god few issues to sort out not least at midfield and will be alarmed at only a 4 point second half return on the scoreboard. Will an absent from the last day out Jamie Clarke be able to start against the champions? Maghery are strong at midfield led by youngster Ben Crealey and will be expected to cause the challengers a lot of trouble in this sector. For the first time in quite a number of years this early in the championship Rangers credentials are being questioned. The defending champions will be all out to put a marker down but I feel that Cross have been given their early scare and will be all out for this one with a much improved team performance as they condemn the champions to the role of challengers via the backdoor.
Armagh Harps versus St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna rightly gets top billing on Saturday night at Crossmaglen. Last year’s beaten finalists St Pat’s have been plagued with a long injury list all year but were up to speed against Sarsfields in a trick opening hurdle comfortably negotiated 3-17 to 1-10.Following a tight opening quarter a 3 goal salvo two from Ross McQuillan killed the match off as a contest. With a few more of their walking wounded back on board Pat’s will be all out to go one step better this year. Saturday though will be a very tough test against a Harps side who were very impressive in beating Annaghmore 1-21 to 0-9. An Ultan Lennon converted penalty eased Harps into a ninth minute lead which was extended to 1-9 to 0-4 at the short whistle. With Joe McElroy orchestrating everything an in-tune Harps eased into the next round of winners. A cracking contest in porospect on Saturday night with the nod going to Harps in a close contest but Pat’s must not be written off if defeated as they will get stronger.
A local derby flavor to the Monday night contest between Ballymacnab and Granemore. Even without the services of two of their suspended county stars the ‘Nab easily accounted for Culloville 2-16 to 1-9 to become the first team through to the winners section. Granemore put in their best performance of the year by beating Tir Na Nog 1-20 to 2-11. One would expect Ballymacnab especially with the return of in-form duo Grugan and McParland to put themselves in the frame as “lively outsiders” by notching their second win.
The other part of the Monday night double header is also a very interesting contest. Two young re-building sides Clan Eireann and Dromintee face off. Clann Eireann overturned an interval deficit of 0-7 to 1-3 to oust Pearse Og’s 2-12 to 1-10 with a Conor Turbitt second half goal sealing victory. Dromintee came out on top in one of the better first round matches with a 2-20 to 2-12 win over Sarsfields in an good open game of football. There is a lot of young talent on show between both sides but Dromintee for me are heading in the right direction quicker and can shade an a very entertaining lively contest.