It was a stunning comeback from Crossmaglen Rangers who were seven down early in the first half to eventually win by four.
Full match report to follow
Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) 3-08 2-08 Dr Crokes (Kerry) FT
60+1 “The GOuch” leaves three between them.
60min Into injury time
59min Great point for Crossmaglen Rangers, there now four up.
56min Dr Crokes on the attack. They lose it and its a free for Crossmaglen.
54min Aaron Kernan gets a goal for Crossmaglen.
52min Goal for Dr Crokes by Eoin Brosnan, its all level.
51min Point for DrCrokes, there only three down now.
48min Poor wide from Crossmaglen.
47min Dr Crokes need the next score.
44min Stephen Kernan gets sent off for Crossmaglen.
41min What an amazing turn around, Cross were seven points down and now lead by four.
40min Crossmaglen go four points up, Jamie Clarke kicks the score.
38min Crossmaglen have a free infront of the posts. Aaron Kernan kicks the free over the bar.
35min Its a goal for Stephen Kernan from Crossmaglen after a few deflections on the way to the net.
32min Really nice play from number 17 for Crossmaglen, only one in it.
31min Second half underway
30+4 Its half time, Crossmaglen will be delighted after being seven down to be only two down.
30+1 Aaron Kernan kicks a nice free.
30min Two minutes injury time.
29min Stunning point from Dr Crokes number eight Ambrose O’Donovan.
28min Crossmaglen will be delighted to be only three points behind.
24min The full forward Michael McNamee from Crossmaglen gets a goal, they needed that.
23min Nice point from Oisin McConville for Cross.
21min Its a goal for Crokes. It seems it might of been an own goal.
17min “The Gouch” hits over an easy free.
16min Dr Crokes go three points up, after another great point from play.
14min It comes back off the post for Crokes.
10min Crossmaglen player down injured.
8min Crossmaglen win a 45, Aaron Kernan kicks it wide.
5min Two points from play for Crokes Jamie Doolan and Brian Looney after a free for Crossmaglen by Aaron Kernan.
2min “The Gouch” punches the first point of the match.
1min The match is underway.
0min The national anthem is getting underway.
0min Its very showery & breezy in Portlaoise. Frances Hanratty will not start Kyle Brennan comes into the team.
0min This game has been billed as the clash of the best team in Ireland against the best player in Ireland as All-Ireland club champions. Crossmaglen Rangers will put their title on the line as they come up against Colm Cooper’s Dr. Crokes.
There is no doubt that Crossmaglen Rangers are the competition specialists as they have racked up five titles in the last 15 years, with Oisin McConville being involved in all five.
These days, McConville is normally held back and used as an impact substitute but there is no doubt that if required he still has the class to turn this game in favour of the Ulster champions.
Indeed, his record against Kerry teams over the years is very good (September 2002, anyone?) and it is certain that he will see action at some stage. Crossmaglen will also have the Kernans, Aaron, Tony and Stephen in their ranks but even with those household names on board, the ace in the pack could well be skilful forward, Jamie Clarke who made a name for himself in this competition last year.
If Clarke continues his current rate of progress, he could well become one of the country’s marquee names in the years to come. At the time of writing, Crossmaglen expect to be at full strength with full-back Paul Kernan having decided to postpone a shoulder injury until his side’s run in this competition is ended.
Surprisingly, no Kerry team has managed to lift the Andy Merrigan cup since 1996 and amazingly the title has only gone to the kingdom on three occasions. If Crossmaglen were to get over Dr Crokes on Saturday and go on to lift the title on St Patrick’s Day, they would have twice as many titles as all the Kerry teams put together.
Having said that, this Dr. Crokes team has been in the making for several years now and unlike previous Kerry champions, they seem to have got their focus right to make a challenge at this stage of the competition.
They are not without class all around the team but have it in abundance in the forwards where the ‘Gooch’ is joined by Kerry team mate Kieran O’Leary and fellow Kingdom panellists, Johnny Buckley and Daithi Casey. Of course, multi All-Ireland medal winner, Eoin Brosnan is still on the scene and likely to start in his now familiar position of centre-back.
When it comes to club football, it is impossible to see Crossmaglen beaten, especially when they get to this stage of the competition. Dr Crokes will present as big a challenge as the Armagh champions have ever got, but I still think Tony McEntee’s men will sneak through.