Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Donnelly Group Football Championship

Donnelly Group Junior Football Championship

Quarter-Final Replay

Belleek’s Laurence O Toole’s 1-11 St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna 1-14

St. Pat’s showed their championship pedigree at this level by ousting favourites Belleek at the second attempt. Like in the drawn encounter there was little between the teams at half-time, indeed nothing as a late Sean McCreesh point levelled for Belleek at 7 each after they had tossed away an opening 3 point lead. Belleek were faster out of the traps as Sean McCreesh 0-2 and Conor McKevitt registered points but 3 in 5 minutes from Kyle Reid, Rory O’Neill and Barry McKeever restored parity. Belleek tagged on 3 more through Eugene McShane, Callum O’Neill and McCreesh but Pat’s broke the scoring sprees by hitting 4 without reply as Kyle Reid 0-3 and a lead point from Brendan Nugent put them ahead for the first time but it was short lived.

If Belleek made a fast start to the first half, it was Pat’s who almost put the game to bed at the start of the second half as points from O’Neill and McKeever were followed by a Nugent goal and further points from O’Neill and Reid, and suddenly there was 7 points between the teams. Eugene McShane, with a fisted goal threw in the proverbial life line followed by a brace of points from McCreesh and it was game back on. Reid pointed to leave a green flag between them heading into added-on time. Belleek pushed forward and were rewarded when Cathal Hayes was fouled in the square-penalty as the clock showed seconds remaining. A hold-up distraction, due to a melee, did not help the kicker McShane’s nerves but his well struck shot was brilliantly saved by Ferghal Murphy who pulled off an equally impressive stop from the follow-up shot from the same player, before the ball was cleared to safety. Pat’s were through to the semis where they will play Ballyhegan.

Championship previews

Armagh Senior Football C’ship

Fri, 29 Sep, @ Athletic Grounds, (semi final), Ballymacnab Round Towers V Armagh Harps 20:30, Ref: Jake Magill

The ‘Nab got their first real championship scare the last day out against Madden with the 2-4 from Rory Grugan making the telling difference. Harps, prior to their two games against St Pat’s, had looked the real deal but their overall performances in the draw and the replay will leave the ‘Nab not too fearful.

Verdict-I am going for the upset here as I fancy an underestimated by many Ballymacnab to pluck the Harps strings as they carry better scoring potential

Armagh Senior Football C’ship

Sat, 30 Sep, @ Athletic Grounds, (semi final), Maghery Sean McDermotts V Crossmaglen Rangers 18:00, Ref: Kevin Faloon

Champions Maghery will have to re-write the history books if they want to get a step closer to regaining their title. The Loughshore men are seeking to inflict a second championship defeat on the Rangers in the same competition. Cross will point to Hearty’s off day that cost them the first defeat, Maghery will benefit from the psychological advantage of that victory plus the knowledge that they will not be facing Jamie Clarke. The champions are very powerful at midfield but Cross negotiated that obstacle very well the last day as they managed to hold Maghery scoreless for some 42 minutes.

Verdict-Cross have been involved in many “big days” but none so important as Saturday nights showdown with the champions. Are the challengers on the wane or are they just coming to the boil as the business end of the year approaches.?Allthough Cross so far are a mere shadow of their previous selves they possess the ability and players to turn it on which I expect to see come Saturday as normal service will be resumed as they dethrone the champions.

Junior Football Championship

Fri, 29 Sep, @ Athletic Grounds, (semi final), Ballyhegan Davitts v St Patrick’s Cullyhanna 18:45, Ref: Gary Marshall

A curtain raiser to the Senior semi-final this Junior match-up will provide early spectators with some great entertainment and good football. St Pat’s are keen to get back into the final following last years last hurdle defeat. They have grown stronger as the competition has gone on with the replay win over a fancied Belleek to stand them in good stead. Ballyhegan have been touted along with Cross Rangers as potential champions from the off. With Rangers now out of their way how will this affect their mindset in terms of preparation. Verdict- Ballyhegan to get the measure of danger man Kyle Reid which will limit Pat’s scoring potential and can go on to reach their first Junior final since they last won the title in 1995.

Intermediate Football Championship

Sun, 01 Oct, @ Crossmaglen, (semi final), Silverbridge Harps v Forkhill Peadar O Doirnin 14:00

Forkhill made no mistake at the second attempt with a great second half performance against Middletown. Trailing 5-4 at the break Forkhill held the opposition to a single second half point whilst adding 7 of their own to run out comfortable 0-11 to 0-6 winners. Silverbridge the League Champions with promotion already under their belts, have faced little difficulty to date in the championship. The derby feel to this match will certainly up the ante on the Bridge as underdogs Forkhill will relish the challenge. Verdict- Whilst Forkhill have the ammunition to shoot down the big guns they have not been firing on all cylinders of late. Against a swift fast moving Silverbridge Forkhill will need to step on the gas early to keep the Bridge from getting into their stride. I will side with the form book as the Bridge look a better all round team and can book a first final berth since they won the title way back in 1972.

Intermediate Football Championship

Sun, 01 Oct, @ Pearse Ogs, (semi final), Killeavy St Moninnes v St Paul’s 17:00, Ref: Padraig Hughes

Having taken care of their neighbours St Peter’s in the last round Killeavy now face another Lurgan side in St Paul’s. Killeavy have been motoring well in the championship with a sound defensive and attacking style of play fine tuned to suit their talents. Opponents Paul’s, after an injury plagued season, have been getting back the walking wounded as each week passes. Paul’s 3 goal salvo against Shanes decided their quarter final game to set up this last four match. Verdict-This will be the stiffest championship examination that Killeavy have faced so far. Will the young and vibrant South Armagh side be able for the experienced wily campaigners Paul’s possess. The answer is yes to set up an all South Armagh final.