CLUB TEAM OF THE DECADE!

Paul Hearty (Crossmaglen)

The other goalkeeper nominees were always going to have a tough time coming up against Paul Hearty. His ability to pick a man out with a kick out as well as being a dominant figure in the small square, was huge for both Armagh and Crossmaglen this decade.

Hearty will always be a legend around Crossmaglen as well as being fondly remembered for his service in the orange and white jersey. An incredible medal collection is Hearty’s reward for years of dedication, finishing his career with 19 county titles, 11 Ulster’s and 6 All-Ireland medals.

 Paul McKeown (Crossmaglen)

McKeown is still doing it at the top level for Crossmaglen, having started in their contest against Clontibret in the first round of this season’s Ulster Club Championship. The nippy corner back has been there and done it all but yet consistently comes back for more and always returns to the high level we have come to expect.

Having captained his club to All-Ireland glory in 2011, McKeown has been a rock solid fixture in the Crossmaglen full back line all through this decade. His dedication to the Crossmaglen cause makes him stand out and the tight-marking corner back looks set to continue playing for another season.

Ryan Kennedy (Ballymacnab)

A problem position this decade for Ballymacnab, Kennedy made the number three jersey his own with his no nonsense attitude and his ability to cancel out opposition danger men. He has been crucial to getting his side to back to back Senior Championship Finals as well as their first ever Senior League title in 2018.

Kennedy can drive up the field at pace to aid the attack when required and he has displayed his versatility over the last 10 years, playing in almost every position for The Nab. His performances in recent years have earned his a starting spot on Kiernan McGeeney’s Armagh side, making his Championship debut against Down this season.

 James Morgan (Crossmaglen)

Will always be known as the hard-hitting, tight-marking corner back and throughout this decade Morgan has put the shackles on some of the best forwards this county has to offer, as well as those further afield. Morgan always relishes the battle and his warrior attitude allows him to stand out.

He can dominate any position across the back six but is most comfortable when handed the job of tracking the opposition most dangerous forward. Injury denied him any involvement in the Cross ranks in 2019 but Morgan has shown enough over the last 10 years to deserve his spot in the Club Team of the Decade.

Aaron Kernan (Crossmaglen)

Widely regarded as one of the best and most talented players featuring in the Armagh club scene this decade, Kernan was always going to get his spot on the Team of the Decade. He has made the black and amber number five jersey his own and has also captained The Rangers to their two latest county titles.

Whether it’s raiding up the field to kick an important score, creating play or striking points from the dead ball, Aaron Kernan has showcased his talents on so many occasions and is perhaps one of the only half backs in the county that is constantly man-marked by the opposition, displaying how vital he is to the Crossmaglen side.

Ciaran McKeever (Cullyhanna)

The rock of both the Armagh and Cullyhanna defences for so many years, McKeever deserving fills the centre half back position on the Team of the Decade. While McKeever could play in a host of different roles for both club and county, he was always most comfortable at the heart of the defence.

He was a crucial part of the St Patrick’s side that reached the county final in 2013 and was always able to break up the field when the chance presented itself. He now features in a sweeper role for his club and the Cullyhanna faithful will be hoping that McKeever commits for another season.

Paul Duffy (Pearse Ogs)

Duffy has been a mainstay in the Pearse Ogs team over the last 10 plus years, and has seen both the good and the bad days while wearing the green and gold. He helped the Ogs get to the county final in 2012 where he kicked 0-2 from his wing half back position, although his side lost out to Crossmaglen.

Bombing forward as a roaming wing half back has been only been part of what Duffy has to offer, as in recent years he has togged out in many different positions. From playing in the full forward line and kicking points to helping out around the middle and setting up play, Duffy has been one of the best to come out of the city club.

James Lavery (Maghery)

No-one is as powerful in the air as big James Lavery and there probably hasn’t been a more influential midfielder on the Armagh club scene in the last 10 years. He can always lead from the front for Maghery and his strongest point is of course his handling and ability to control the centre of the field every day he plays.

A real old-style midfielder, there hasn’t been too many who have got the better of Lavery this decade. He is fit to mix it physically around the middle of the park, always willing to put his body on the line while he can burst up the field when called upon to help out with the attack.

Charlie Vernon (Harps)

Like Lavery, the Armagh Harps midfielder never shies away from the battles that commence around the centre of the park and takes the physical nature of the game in his stride. His running power and ability to break lines has been the main trait that has made him stand out over the last 10 years.

Vernon has also been a ‘die-hard’ to the Armagh cause this decade and his recent retirement will see him boss the middle of the field for the Harps’s all through 2020. He has featured in a range of different positions but there’s no question that he can express his full range of talents while wearing number 8 or 9.  

Ryan McShane (Harps)

Armagh Harps second representation on the Team of the Decade, McShane continues to cause serious headaches for defences all over the county. His pace sets him apart and his work rate allows him to get up and now the field all day long, fulfilling the modern day expectations of a wing half forward.

He knows where the posts are as well of course and it was his crucial goal in the 2017 Senior Championship Final that helped the Harps claim the Gerry Fegan Cup for the first time since 1991. McShane will always be remembered around the Harps for that moment and will hope to create more times to remember in the coming years.

Rory Grugan (Ballymacnab)

It would be difficult to find a better play-maker in the county, as Grugan is the traditional number 11 who ties the play together. The architect of so much that is good about the Ballymacnab attack; Grugan has also displayed his qualities at county level, captaining Armagh over the last few years.

Grugan has played everywhere from number 8 up for The Nab and his work rate off the ball and his tackling ability is something that is sometimes overlooked, but is a huge part of his game. He can swing a score as well as creating the play and his left foot is one of the best in the county.

Tony Kernan (Crossmaglen)

Like the other Crossmaglen players in the team, Kernan has claimed a raft of medals throughout this decade, in Armagh, Ulster and on the national stage. The way he can sweetly connect with the outside of his right boot to drive over a score is a sight to behold and Kernan is certainly a fan favourite in Crossmaglen.

While Kernan’s game time may have been reduced in recent seasons he still remains a vital part of the Crossmaglen team. A reliable free-taker and play-maker, Tony Kernan has also been one of the hardest workers in the Crossmaglen team over the last 10 years and is always extremely devoted to the cause.

Jamie Clarke (Crossmaglen)

How Crossmaglen supporters would love to see Clarke back in the black and amber in the near future and form a deadly trio with O’Neill and Carragher. Clarke was the main attraction when he togged out in the famous Crossmaglen colours and had the ability to always back up those high expectations.

His performances in the 2012 and 2014 county finals were incredible and this was when Clarke was at the peak of his powers, hitting 2-2 and 2-1 respectively. He has been a crucial member of the Armagh attack this decade as well and is highly regarded as one of the most talented attackers in the country.

Rian O’Neill (Crossmaglen)

A youngster still learning his trade at the highest level, there’s no telling the heights that Rian O’Neill can reach. The youngest member of the Team of the Decade, O’Neill has made it by awing the crowds within the county over the last number of years where he has demonstrated the talent he possesses.

O’Neill has featured in two county finals this decade, not only receiving a winners medal at the end of each game but has also collected the man of the match award on both occasions. His accuracy in both shooting and passing is incredible and he has a bright future at both club and county level in front of him.

Kyle Carragher (Crossmaglen)

Carragher has always been an appreciated member of the Crossmaglen attack and even when it was filled with star names like Clarke and Kernan, Carragher was still able to display his talents. His pace and sharp turn makes him a nightmare for any defender in the county while he can take a score as well.

He has an unbelievable first touch and never seems to spill possession, no matter what conditions he faces. Has had a reputation as being one of the best forwards in the county over the last 10 years and has also enjoyed a stint in the orange and white of Armagh. Carragher is fully deserving of his place on the Team of the Decade.

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