AIB GAA FOOTBALL CLUB SEMI-FINALS PROMISE HIGH-QUALITY FARE
Coolderry (Offaly) and Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim) are through to the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final on St. Patrick’s Day and now it’s the turn of the footballers to set up the final pairings when they clash in the semi-finals next Saturday.
The pairings are as follows:
Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) v Dr. Crokes (Kerry), Portlaoise, (2.00)
Garrycastle (Westmeath) v St. Brigid’s (Roscommon), Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford (2.00).
Both semi-finals promise to be intriguing affairs, involving the reigning All-Ireland champions (Crossmaglen), a Kerry club (Dr.Crokes) chasing a second All-Ireland title and a first for 20 years, All-Ireland semi-final newcomers (Garrycastle) and a Roscommon side (St.Brigid’s) hoping to reach the final for a second successive year.
This evening we look at the first of those two semi-finals – tomorrow we take a look at that intriguing battle between Garrycastle and St Brigid’s, the Roscommon champions.
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS v DR.CROKES
Crossmaglen Rangers, the defending All-Ireland champions, are bidding to reach the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final for the seventh time, a truly remarkable record, given that their first appearance in the final was in 1997. They also qualified in 1999-2000-2007-2009 and last year. They won five All-Ireland titles in 1997-1999-2000-2007-2011.
Dr. Crokes will be attempting to reach the All-Ireland final for the third time, having previously been in there in 1992, when they won their only title to date, and in 2007 when they lost a replay to Crossmaglen.
The sides drew 1-9 each in Croke Park on St.Patrick’s Day before Crossmaglen won the replay (0-13 to 1-5) in Portlaoise two weeks later.
Crossmaglen retained the Ulster title most impressively last autumn, comfortably beating St.Gall’s of Antrim, the 2010 All-Ireland winners, Ballinderry (Derry) and Burren (Down).
Dr. Crokes were equally impressive in their three wins in Munster against Ballinacourty (Waterford), Kilmurry-Ibrickane(Clare) and UCC.
One interesting similarity in both Dr.Crokes’ and Crossmaglen’s advance to the semi-final has been their high scoring returns. They have averaged 2 goals 12.5 points, which suggests that Saturday’s clash will provide lots of scoring opportunities.
That’s hardly surprising, given the producing nature of the respective strike forces. Oisin McConville (2-5), Aaron Kernan (0-11), Jamie Clarke (1-3), Aaron Cunningham (1-3), Stephen Kernan (0-5), Tony Kernan (0-4) have been in fine finishing form for Crossmaglen while Colm Cooper (2-11), Daithi Casey (2-10) and Kieran O’Leary (1-4) have been Dr. Crokes’ top marksmen.
How they reached the semi-final
Dr.Crokes 3-13 Ballinacourty (Waterford) 0-7 (Munster quarter-final)
Dr. Crokes 0-12 Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) 0-9 (Munster semi-final)
Dr. Crokes 3-14 UCC 2-10 (Munster final)
Crossmaglen Rangers 3-9 St.Gall’s (Antrim) 2-5 (Ulster quarter-final)
Crossmaglen Rangers 0-17 Ballinderry (Derry) 1-10 (Ulster semi-final)
Crossmaglen Rangers 2-11 Burren (Down) 0-10 (Ulster final)
Average For: 2-12 Average Against 1-9
Previous All-Ireland semi-final appearances
1997: Crossmaglen 1-8 Laune Rangers (Kerry) 1-7
1999: Crossmaglen 1-10 Eire Og (Carlow) 1-5
2000: Crossmaglen 2-16 UCC 3-6
2005: Portlaoise (Laois) 0-8 Crossmaglen 0-7
2007: Crossmaglen 1-11 St.Brigid’s (Roscommon) 0-11
2008: St. Vincent’s (Dublin) 2-9 Crossmaglen 0-11
2009: Crossmaglen Rangers 4-11 Dromcollogher-Broadford (Limerick) 0-6
2011: Crossmaglen 2-11 Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin 1-12)
Played 8, Won 6, Lost 2.
1991: Salthill (Galway) 3-9 Dr. Crokes 2-6
1992: Dr. Crokes 3-4 Corofin (Galway) 1-5
2007: Dr. Crokes 1-9 Moorefield (Kildare) 0-12 (Draw)
2007: Dr. Crokes 2-9 Moorefield 0-8 (Replay)
Played 4, Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 1.