Crossmaglen Rangers V Armagh Harps, 8pm Friday
The all-conquering Crossmaglen Rangers are odds on favourites, not just to dispose of former Club Championship finalists Armagh Harps this Friday evening at St. Oliver Plunkett Park, but to retain their crown as Armagh Club Champions.
This is a repeat of last year’s quarter-final and although the Harps scored 3-4 to Rangers 1-12, two of those goals against Cross came in the last two minutes of the game and was not a fare reflection on a match dominated by Rangers.
Crossmaglen comfortably lie top of Division one, losing only twice during this campaign. They have scored an average of 3-12 a game for the past five games and most worryingly for Harps, put 7-20 past Granemore only last week in the league. They put out a weakened side against Division Two leaders Clann Eireann in the last round of the championship and still hammered them 2-17 to 0-10.
The Harps, beaten finalists in 2009, overcame Mullaghbawn in their last round 2-10 to 1-10 with star performer Ultan Lennon helping himself to 2-6 in the process. The second half of that game saw Harps concede 1-7 and only score five points to snatch victory. Their defence will need to be on top form if they are to have any chance of stopping Rangers.
It’s hard to see past the reigning Armagh Club, League and All-Ireland club champions with their current crop of county stars being bolstered by new and ever emerging talent from the youth ranks. Expect a high scoring, one-sided encounter from the Cross men as they will no doubt advance to the semi-finals with consummate ease.
By Paraic Collins
Maghery Sean MacDermott’s v Granemore, 6pm, Saturday
This club championship quarter-final pits two of the outside favourites, expected to give reigning Armagh club champions Crossmaglen a run for their money, head to head on Saturday evening in the small village of Maghery, in south-west of the county.
Maghery enter this game on the back of some good league form, winning three out of their last four games, most noticeably against defending champions Crossmaglen Rangers.
This time last year, Sean Macdermott’s were knocked out at the same stage of the championship to St. Pat’s on a score line of 1-9 to 0-9– But injury’s and an array of suspensions for the Blue and Gold, played a major part in that defeat– This year’s championship saw them record a slim victory over local rivals Sarsfields in the previous round by a single point. Despite notching up 13 points, their forward line needs to start reaching their potential if they are to advance to the next round.
Granemore reached the semi-final last year and were widely tipped to go all the way but a miss-firing forward line could only muster a paltry eight scores over the hour and were eventually dumped out by the aforementioned St. Pats. In the last round the White and green, for the second year running, defeated St. Michaels by only two pints and will need to vastly improve if they are to overcome the Loughshore men.
Granemore will look to brothers Toner, Kieran and Barry, to dominate possession in the mid-field and supply good ball to their forwards who have the ability to cause trouble to any defence.
Expect Maghery to shade this tight encounter. Their current league form gives them too much momentum and Granemore shipped a whopping 7-20 against Rangers recently.
By Paraic Collins
Pearse Og V St Patricks, Armagh, 8pm Saturday
There is a very interesting senior football tie down for decision in the Armagh Senior football championship this Saturday evening when Pearse Og take on St Patricks of Cullyhanna. While on paper, this looks like a simple enough win for Pearse Og, one can certainly not write off St Patricks and many punters are bound to be tempted by the odds of almost 2/1.
To many outside observers, Pearse Og will be known as the club that ended Crossmaglen Rangers dominance of the Armagh senior football championship when they won the championship back in 2009. This year they have already laid down a marker with their defeat of Dromintee, the erstwhile challengers to the great men of Crossmaglen. For this game, Pearse Og will once again be boosted by their county players Andy Mallon and of course the returning Ronan Clarke who will be pivotal in attack.
Although St Patricks of Cullyhanna will come into this game as rank outsiders, they cannot be totally discounted. They were far from convincing in their previous round victory over Whitecross when they won by 0-11 to 0-10 but they will have benefitted from coming out on the right side of a one point game, psychologically more than anything else. They have made huge strides since winning the Intermediate championship in 2008 and backboned by Armagh trio, Ciaran McKeever, Malachy Mackin and Liam O’Hare, they will be a tough nut for Pearse Og to crack.
By Eddie Kirwin