Ulster club: Crossmaglen come good to claim crown

December 12, 2010

Crossmaglen's Aaron Cunningham with Naomh Conaill's Eoin Waide and John McKenna during the Ulster club SFC final at Kingspa Breffni Park - INPHO
Crossmaglen Rangers 2-9
Naomh Conaill 0-10

14-man Crossmaglen Rangers used all their experience to edge out Naomh Conaill in a hard fought provincial football decider at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The Donegal side led by 0-7 to 1-3 at the break, with Jamie Clarke's goal keeping the Armagh side in contention after Conaill had dominated.

Tony Kernan levelled on the resumption but was then sent off. Veteran Oisin McConville then goaled for Crossmaglen and a brilliant second half display saw them claim yet another Ulster crown.

First-time finalists Naomh Conaill showed no early nerves and took the game to their illustrious opponents with two pointed frees from Dermot 'Brick' Molloy and a superb effort from Leo McLoone.

But Cross' hit the front in the 16th minute when Michael McNamee set up Clarke for the opening goal, adding to earlier points from the same player and McConville. However, the Glenties men responded with scores from Johnny McLoone, Dara Gallagher and Molloy to lead by the minimum at the break.

The signs looked ominous for the Armagh kingpins when Tony Kernan was sent off on a second yellow card in the 38th minute, but refusing to panic, they responded to this setback when Clarke set up the evergreen McConville for their second goal.

This time, there was no way back for Naomh Conaill who could not find a way through a blanket defence in which first half substitute Francie Bellew, Paul Kernan and Danny O'Callaghan excelled.

Whereas Clarke, McConville and Aaron Kernan were able to pick off scores for Cross', the Donegal champions could manage just one point in the opening 23 minutes of the second half. And when McConville fired over a wonderful point in injury-time to bring his tally for the afternoon to 1-4, the provincial title was destined for Crossmaglen for a record eighth time and fifth time in seven years.

Crossmaglen Rangers - P Hearty; P McKeown, P Kernan, KJ Morgan; A Kernan (0-1, 1f) , D O'Callaghan, S Finnegan; J Hanratty, D McKenna; J Clarke (1-2) , S Kernan, F Hanratty; T Kernan (0-1), M McNamee (0-1), O McConville (1-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: F Bellew for M McNamee (27 mins), A Cunningham for S Kernan (39 mins), M Aherne for S Finnegan (39 mins), K Carragher for F Hanratty (50 mins), J McEntee for D McKenna (54 mins).

Naomh Conaill - S McGrath; T Donoghue, J Bonner, C Boyle; M Boyle, A Thompson, E Wade; M Regan, J McLoone; B McDyre (0-2); L McCloone (0-1), D Gallagher (0-3, 2f); J O'Malley, D Molloy (0-4, 4f) , L Thompson. Subs: S Corcoran for L Thompson (50 mins), J McKenna for J O Malley (57 mins).

Ref: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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