Crossmaglen vs Maghery
Sun 13th Sept – Athletic Grounds – 4.00pm
Crossmaglen face familiar territory this weekend as they head to the Athletic Grounds to contest yet another Championship Final.
They breezed through the early rounds without reaching top gear, seeing off two South Armagh rivals in Silverbridge and Mullaghbawn.
Killeavy offered still opposition in the last four but just couldn’t do enough to pull off the shock of the championship.
For that last four years the untouchable aura surrounding Crossmaglen has been questioned, as a few teams have tried to disrupt their grip on the Gerry Fegan Cup.
Cullyhanna did it with a one-point win in 2016, Maghery bettered them twice the following season, and for two years Ballymacnab troubled the Armagh kingpins for long periods.
But troubling wasn’t enough. Crossmaglen still retained their throne and are now sixty minutes away from landing the three in a row.
Standing in their way will be Finnian Moriarty’s Maghery side, the team who defeated Cross in the first round of the 2020 league.
This will be a different prospect however as Crossmaglen never seem to worry much about their league form.
In his time, Moriarty’s men have defeated the Rangers in all three league encounters but were second best when the sides met in the Championship.
Last season saw the league champions pitted against Cross, and two Oisin O’Neill goes put his side through to the final.
Maghery offered little challenge last year and they know they are better than that. The hurt from last years defeat may be enough to drive them on this weekend.
They have the likes of the Forker brothers Aidan and Stefan as well as James Lavery, David Lavery and Stephan Cusack there to drive them on.
All those players were involved in both Maghery’s Championship victories over Crossmaglen in 2017, but the Rangers haven’t lost a game since.
Seasoned campaigners such as the Kernan’s, Kyle Carragher, James Morgan and Paul Hughes offer the team a wealth of experience.
It’s the youngsters who are trying to cement their own legacy. Rian O’Neill and Cian McConville want to complete the treble and carry on the rich history the club holds.
Newcomers Dara and Tony O’Callaghan look to secure their first medals at this level as they compete in their first ever Senior Championship Final.
The aerial threat posed by Ronan Lappin on the edge of the square offers Maghery a different dynamic to their attacking play.
Crossmaglen will be well aware of the danger he can create and it will be interesting to see who Stephen Kernan decides to put on the big full forward.
The midfield battle will be worth the admission fee alone as James Lavery takes on Stephen Morris,
Rumours have been circulating that Morris will not play due to an injury, and this would be a huge blow to Crossmaglen.
Maghery seem to be hitting form at just the right time, having been unimpressive in their opening wins against Dromintee and Clann Eireann.
They were brilliant against Pearse Ogs in the semi final and that will give them confidence heading into Sunday. Plus, they don’t fear Cross.
And Cross don’t fear anyone. They know they are the best team in the county and are favourites heading into any game they play.
If Maghery are to win this one, they will need everything to go right for them and for Cross to underperform.
Goals will be crucial in this one and both sides hold great forward lines that are well able to rattle the net.
Maghery head in with a great chance and should make this a really competitive final, but it’s hard to look past the Rangers completing the three in a row.