Crossmaglen 4-18 Mullaghbawn 0-10
For fifteen minutes, this game proved to be an intriguing encounter, edge of the seat stuff, with whispers of an upset floating through the Athletic Grounds.
But fifteen minutes was all we got.
Like Silverbridge the week previous, Mullaghbawn came flying out of the traps with all the intensity and purpose of a focused team with one goal in mind.
The problem was, they just couldn’t hit the target. A 27% shot accuracy during the opening half tells its own tale.
And better yet, only one player in a Mullaghbawn jersey got on the score sheet, with Shea Loye claiming all ten points.
Cross were just too good. Plain and simple.
The power of Oisin O’Neill. The silkiness of Cian McConville. The all-round sheer ruthlessness proved too hard to handle.
By the halfway stage, the Rangers had built up a commanding lead, 3-7 to 0-3 and with Mullaghbawn reduced to 14 men, there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Just before the water break, when it was still a contest, Oisin O’Neill burst forward and rattled the net to give Cross a 1-2 to 0-1.
It all started from a shot that fell short at the other end of the pitch and Crossmaglen needed no invitation to punish Peter McDonnell’s men.
Tony Kernan clinched the games second goal, with the keeper getting a hand to it but not enough to keep it out of the net.
With Cross ahead 2-2 to 0-1, the game was essentially over.
That being said, Crossmaglen drove forward ferociously, as if every attack was in search of a last-minute winner.
The standout score of the game came through the brilliance of Cian McConville and his magic was a joy to behold.
Bursting towards goal, McConville won the footrace between himself and his marker, chipped the ball into his hands without breaking stride and beautifully curled it between the posts.
The third green flag was raised on the 30-minute mark, when good tackling from Callum Cumiskey and Oisin O’Neill saw the Rangers regain possession.
Tony Kernan found Mel Boyce and the corner forward slid the ball low under the diving keeper. With the aid of the upright, Cross were now 13 points ahead at the break.
There was no let-up in the second period. Rian O’Neill, McConville and Boyce all found their range while Loye matched them with three pointed frees.
The game was near completion when the fourth and final goal arrived, and it came in the form of a spot kick.
McConville saw his initial effort pushed away by Stephen McKinley but made no mistake in slotting home the rebound.
Substitute Oisin Kierans impressed in the second half, hitting two great points, although he was the free man in the Cross attack.
Cross find themselves in the familiar position of unbackable favourites to retain their championship crown for the third year on the trot.
They await their semi-final opponents but with the form Stephen Kernan’s men are displaying, it’s safe to say no one will relish facing them.
Killeavy 0-17 Armagh Harps 0-9
Armagh Harps horrible season continued on Sunday evening as they suffered their fourth defeat from five competitive outings.
Barring a purple patch in the second quarter, Damian Jordan’s men failed to offer up any form of stiff opposition.
All over the field they look sluggish and were never able to get to the pitch of the game, while Killeavy were the opposite.
They started and finished strongly to claim their spot in the last four and no one can have any complaints with their inclusion.
Caolan McConville inspired them into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes of action, with Conor Lavery offering the Harps only response.
Killeavy did begin to drift and when the short whistle sounded, the Harps were right back into contention and building momentum.
Tommy Turley, Tom O’Kane, Eoin Fields, Ultan Lennon and Lavery all hit the target to get the Harps back to within one.
They could have stolen ahead. O’Kane dribbled the ball soccer style toward the net and his goal-bound attempt was expertly saved by Shea Magill to keep Killeavy ahead.
Niall Magennis tagged on the final score of the half to give Killeavy a two-point cushion, 0-8 to 0-6, but the result was still well and truly up for grabs.
Ronan McGuinness continued Killeavy’s form while Conor O’Neill added to the Harps woes, following a great turnover in defence from David Markey.
Tom O’Kane nailed two shots, split by a Miceal McNamee free, awarded for a back pass to the goalkeeper in the Harps defence.
Killeavy went on to outscore their opponents 0-6 to 0-1 in the final 20 minutes and even the introduction of Joe McElroy couldn’t inspire the Harps.
McGuinness (two), Niall Magennis, McNamee (two) and substitute Oisin King all hit the target in a dominant spell for Neil Coulter’s side.
Killeavy will have high expectations for this youthful side and they have shown they have some serious talent in their ranks.
They await the semi-final draw that will take place on Monday evening (tonight) with their opponents still unknown.