Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Oisin’s Double Strike Sinks Maghery

Armagh Senior Football Championship semi-final Crossmaglen Rangers 2-9 Maghery 0-8

A factor in the second leg of the semi-final double header would be how both sides would cope with the extra half hour delay caused by the draw and extra-time in the first match.

We only had to wait all of 2 minutes to be given the answer as the defending champions were  both far faster and quicker out of the blocks and in tune with the playing conditions and, more importantly, showed it on the scoreboard with a 1-1 haul. A high dropping ball off the boot of Mel Boyce dropped on the edge of the square where Oisin O’Neill reacted the quickest to fire the ball past a helpless Johnny Montgomery in the Maghery goal. With the crowd still gasping for air following this sensational start young Cian McConville skinned his marker  to register a classy point and the Champions were up and running as the Loughshore outfit were shipping water at an enormous rate. As the physical challenges rose with a brace of yellow cards flashed, Maghery proved to be wide of the mark falling further behind courtesy of a Rian O’Neill free. A legacy of five wides in a row shared between both teams was ended 18 minutes into the contest as Stefan Forker got Maghery on the scoreboard via a free following a foul on Fox. The contrast in styles in both teams was very evident with Cross looking to play quick ball forward and break with speed whilst Maghery filtered a lot of men behind the ball, preferring to use a slower build up and carry the ball into the tackle. In worsening weather conditions with underfoot conditions treacherous the standard of play in the last 15 minutes to the short whistle also fell far short of what was expected from both teams, but with another 2 points on the board from converted frees by Rian O’Neill and Cian McConville it was Cross who were much the happier heading down the tunnel with a 6 point lead 1-4 to 0-1 and the comfort of a dry dressing room.

Crossmaglen’s Cian McConville and Maghery’s Brendan Haveron

Cross were eager to deny Maghery foothold in the game and after goalkeeper Montgomery was wide with a “45” effort Cross stretched their lead to 9 points with a third Rian O’Neill point and one from substitute Kyle Carragher who made an instant impact and defender Callum Cumiskey weighing in with his sides seventh point. With that big lead the onus was on the challengers to up their game and they did hit their second point from an Aidan Forker free 13 minutes into the second half. Alan Farrelly then broke through the Maghery defence hitting a fleeting goal chance over the crossbar and a second Aidan Forker pointed free immediately cancelled out that score.

Crossmaglens Johnny McKeever has his eye on target

After 50 minutes Stefan Forker hit the challengers first point from play which signalled a mini revival as a couple of more Maghery points from Aidan Forker and Gerard Campbell cut the deficit to 5 points 1-8 to 0-6. Although having adopted a what we have we hold defensive mode Cross kept the scoreboard ticking over with their ninth point. If the opening goal put the skids under Maghery the second from the same player Oisin O’Neill as we entered 4 minutes of added on time put the final nail in the Maghery 2019 championship run but to their credit the losers notched the final score of the match as James Lavery pointed. Semi-finals are there to be won and the winners care little how it is achieved. Cross will be as surprised as anyone as to how comfortably they brushed aside League Champions Maghery who failed to do themselves justice in the very testing conditions.

Cross now face Ballymacnab in the final a repeat of last year which was a cracking contest so here is hoping for more of the same.

Crossmaglens Rian O Neill drives forward with the ball

Scorers Crossmaglen Rangers; Oisin O’Neill (2-1), Rian O’Neill (0-3), Cian McConville (0-2), Kyle Carragher (0-1), Alan Farrelly (0-1),Callum Cumiskey (0-1)

Maghery; Aidan Forker (0-3), Stefan Forker (0-2), Gerard Campbell (0-1), James Lavery (0-1), Stephen Cusack ((0-1)