Just over 12 weeks ago these two teams met in round 11 of the league and with relegation staring Silverbridge in the face they turned out one of their finest performances of the year to hammer their hosts Crossmaglen by 14 points. 3-13 to 0-8 was the score line that night and the same result on Sunday would be a huge shock.
So what’s different this time around? It’s Championship, and of course, this is the time of year that the Rangers really come to life. Both sides were below full strength during their league clash and Silverbridge have since been relegated to Division 1B for 2020, although they have enjoyed two huge victories in their most recent championship games against Armagh Harps and Sarsfields.
In their one point victory over Sarsfields, Silverbridge demonstrated that their attack can cause problems for any defence with the likes of Aaron Duffy and Joe Rock great at creating and taking any chances that may come their way while they also have a reliable free taker in Paddy Reel.
Jarly Og Burns had a quiet game by his standards last day out but it’s certain that the Irish News All-Star midfielder will raise his game this weekend. Burns and Peter Carragher form a mean midfield pairing which Crossmaglen will match with the likes of the O’Neill brothers Rian and Oisin, Stephen Morris and Johnny Hanratty floating around the centre of the park.
Cross hold two of the most deadly footballers in the county in the two O’Neill’s and their kicking ability is second to none. In their final round-robin game against Ballymacnab, Rian and Oisin bombarded the Nab’s rear-guard with precise kick passes to the isolated Cian McConville whose movement and delicate footwork makes him a defenders nightmare.
Once McConville gathers possessions he has one thing on his mind and he can easily split the posts with either foot. With such a talented attacking unit, it’s inevitable that Cross will hit the net on a couple of occasions this weekend and with the addition of the returning Kyle Carragher, a Silverbridge defence which has conceded seven goals over the course of their last two games will need a lot of cover.
Jack McArdle is likely to retreat to the full back line to keep tabs on Cian McConville and the natural wing half back may look to attack as often as possible to pull his marker out of position and keep him away from goals. While Cross like to isolate young McConville they also have the route one option with Mel Boyce often positioned at the edge of the square.
James Morgan is sidelined for the remainder of the championship through injury and there is a feeling that the Crossmaglen full back line could be there to be got at. Rico Kelly may go toe to toe with Joe Rock and Silverbridge will hope their full forward has too much pace for Crossmaglen’s make-shift number three.
Aaron Kernan hasn’t been himself of late for the Rangers but he’s certain to kick into gear now his side has reached the business end of the season. Crossmaglen also have the stronger bench between the two teams with the likes of Tony Kernan and Paudie Stuttard likely to see some game time. Anything other than a Crossmaglen victory this weekend would be a huge upset and it’s unlikely that Silverbridge will do enough to earn a semi final place.