The defending Armagh, Ulster and All-Ireland senior football champions, Crossmaglen will lay all their titles on the line this weekend when they take on Pearse Og in the semi-final. Pearse Og are the only team outside of their opponents to win the Armagh senior football title and they will be hoping to put them out on Sunday in the hope of winning their second title in three years.
This will not be easy as the All-Ireland champions have been in scintillating form all year and look keen to win the title for the 39th time. Since winning the All-Ireland title on St Patricks Day, they appear to have gone from strength and there is no greater motivation for them than to put away a team that they would see as relative upstarts. In their quarter-final tie against Armagh Harps, Rangers’ were in no mood to be charitable and came away with a hugely comprehensive 6-12 to 1-6 win.
They could afford to leave Oisin McConville on the bench on that occasion but he is pushing for a starting place this weekend after scoring 1-4 when coming on as a substitute. But McConville is not the only star on this team with Jamie Clarke, Tony Kernan, Aaron Kernan and Paul Hearty all regulars on the Armagh Senior football team this year.
Pearse Og looked uncomfortable for long periods in their own quarter-final when they came away with a seven point win over St Patricks. However, the losers could point to a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions that went against them on the day.
Since winning the title in 2009 Pearse OG have been severely handicapped by the loss of Ronan Clarke who has hardly kicked a ball since and the extent of his loss cannot be over-stated. On his day he is virtually unmarkable and if Pearse Og were to have any chance this weekend, they would need him. As things stand, he will be absent meaning yet another county final appearance for McConville and Co.
Verdict: Crossmaglen Rangers