Miceal McKenna’s heroic year in the green and white of Grange sees him pick up his first Club All-Star at wing half forward while Oisin O’Neill claims the number 11 jersey after inspiring Crossmaglen to their 45th Armagh title in 2019 and joins his brother Rian in the team.
At number 12 and completing the half forward line comes one of the most inform players on show through this year’s Intermediate Championship. Paul O’Rourke led Shane O’Neill’s to the championship final but they were agonisingly beaten by a last minute pointed free at the hands of Grange, although O’Rourke performed magnificently on the day and was awarded the man of the match accolade.
The wing half forward struck five points in the final game of the year while also top scoring for his side against Keady in their play off clash, scoring 2-1 from play. While the All-Star and the Man of the Match award in the final are nice to receive, O’Rourke knows nothing can replace the empty feeling that came once the final whistle had been sounded.
Grange just got their noses in front with the last kick of the game and O’Rourke feels nothing can heal the hurt of losing, “No, nothing is (a consolation for the loss). It was just brutal I’d have to say, brutal. I wasn’t expecting it (the All-Star) but it means a lot for me personally and my family as well, it’s a big thing. You never expect to get something when you’re 29 at this stage”.
With Shane O’Neill’s falling at the final hurdle this season, they will hope to go one further in 2020 and secure the Atty Hearty cup. To do so, they will need O’Rourke to once again lead the charge and his performances this year have convinced him to keep playing next season, although his plan was to walk away and retire at the end of the year.
“My target wasn’t to be playing next year; I was going to hang up the boots. But saying I got Man of the Match and talking to a few people, then getting this here (an All-Star), sure I’ll put the boots back on. I just thought enough was enough, I’m playing 12 years now and I just thought the legs wouldn’t cope but I think I’ll give it another rattle and hopefully get another chance to hold that title again, the Intermediate Championship”.
Shane O’Neill’s will look to improve on their league form next year after a poor league campaign in 2019 which saw them win just 6 of their 14 games while also surviving relegation on score difference, although the Camlough men did burst into life come championship season.
Looking ahead to next year, there is no doubt in O’Rourke’s head that there is enough quality in this Shane O’Neill’s side to push on and win the Intermediate Championship, “Definitely, 100%. As you seen there in the final we were beat by a point but it’s definitely within our grasps to get it”.