Maghery vs Pearse Ogs Preview
There is an assumption out there that if Crossmaglen’s tilt at three in a row is to be halted, Maghery are they only team equipped to do so.
Physicality, championship experience and determination are all a mix of the qualities needed to stop Stephen Kernan’s men.
Maghery are of course the last team to defeat the Rangers in championship football, and they did it twice in 2017.
The then holders were led by Shane McConville, who drove his side to back to back county finals, winning one and losing one.
Now, the 2016 Championship winning manager will once again be on the line during a Maghery Championship game, but this time he will be in the opposite corner.
McConville has transformed a ‘has-been’ Pearse Ogs side into contenders in the two seasons he has been in charge.
Winning Division 1B last season was only the start. He has now guided the Ogs to consecutive quarter finals, winning their most recent one against Madden.
His has helped them gain access to the last four for the first time since 2012 and the city side will head into the game full of confidence.
While Maghery have limped into the last four, the most important thing for Finnian Moriarty’s side is that they are there.
They came through a tough test against Dromintee the first day out and needed extra time to see off Clann Eireann in the quarter finals.
For long periods of their last eight clash, they were second best all over the field but the Lurgan men didn’t have the killer edge to see out a famous win.
Maghery summoned all their experience and grit to get a result and these qualities will be called upon once again this evening.
The Ogs their own championship experience, with the likes of Paul and Anto Duffy, Chris Rafferty, Gerard Barton and Marc Cullen all part of the 2009 championship winning team.
The younger talent has helped drive the thing along, particularly in defence with Vincy Brady, Sean Sutton, Conor McNicholl and Liam Gilsenan all earning places in the back six.
Sutton has served his one game suspension after picking up a red card against Cullyhanna and should find himself back in the starting line-up.
He will most likely be the man to go toe-to-toe with Aidan Forker and try to limit his influence on the game.
Stephen Cusack was replaced moments after being introduced the last day out and Maghery will hope he is able to play more of a role this weekend.
Pearse Ogs have their own impact sub, with Conor Clarke changing the game in his sides favour after coming in against Madden.
Both teams are likely to pack the defence as neither side carries huge attacking threats, but that doesn’t mean this game won’t be full of excitement.
This is a huge opportunity for both the Ogs and Maghery to get back to the showpiece and whoever makes the least mistakes should make it through.
The Ogs seem to be riding on the crest of a wave at the moment with so many positive vibes bursting out of the team.
Shane McConville knows how to win big championship games and although this game is sure to go down to the wire, the Ogs could find themselves back in the decider, but will have to fight for everything.
Prediction: Pearse Ogs