Hot favourites Crossmaglen Rangers came back from four points behind to secure a late draw for the five times All-Ireland Champions.
On a perfect day for football; reigning All-Ireland champions Crossmaglen Rangers appeared to have lost their All-Ireland title on a dramatic afternoon at GAA headquarters. The underdogs started well and were 0-6 to 0-5 midway through the first half though lucky not to be a man down after Paul Dillon headbutted Brendan McKeown. The Dolans were having a big impact with inter-county star Dessie tallying three points and James putting one ball over the bar in the first-half.
Eight minutes before the end of the opening half; there’s real daylight between the teams as a mistake from a long free gives Patrick Mulvihill a chance and he strikes low and hard to make the score 1-06 to 0-05 to the underdogs.
Crossmaglen have plenty experience and they don’t look like panicking despite the deficit. Three minutes before half-time they have their own goal chance with Jamie Clarke choosing to point under pressure and the score puts a goal between the teams. The teams swap a further point apiece with Castle’s McNamee pointing on the blow of half-time to put four between the teams.
HALF-TIME: Crossmaglen 0-07 Garrycastle 1-08
Crossmaglen have early chances to reduce the arrears in the second-half with McConville pointing his second free to put a goal between the teams.
Six minutes into the second-half and Garrycastle have Tom McHugh sent-off with the corner-back red carded for a second yellow card after he pulled down Cross’ Jamie Clarke when the Armagh forward was advancing on goal. The sending-off seems as if it could be a turning point until Crossmaglen are also reduced to 14 men barely four minutes later in another incident inside the small rectangle – this time the Cross rectangle as Paul Kernan gets his marching orders; also for a second yellow.
Cross’ Clarke looks certain to score a goal but goalkeeper and centre-back Gaffey combine to get the ball off the goal-line and the score remains Garrycastle 1-10 Crossmaglen Rangers 0-10 midway through the second half.
Crossmaglen are well on top at this stage and three quick points from McConville (two from frees) have the sides level with 10 minutes to play. Garrycastle 1-10 Crossmaglen 0-13
Garrycastle refuse to buckle however as James Dolan goes on a lung bursting run; forcing the concession of a free which cousin Dessie Dolan points to put Garrycastle in front with nine minutes on the clock. Garrycastle 1-11 Crossmaglen 0-13
The sides swap further points and its all square with four minutes to play; Garrycastle 1-12 Crossmaglen 0-15
Both sides have chances to win it in the remaining minutes, including two minutes of injury-time. McConville comes closest to putting Cross ahead for the first time in the game but his long rang 59th minute free trails just wide. Both sides deserve another run out however in what was a cracking final.
Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; J Morgan, P Kernan, P McKeown; A Kernan (0-2), D O’Callaghan, B McKeown; J Hanratty, D McKenna (0-1); T Kernan (0-2), K Brennan, A Cunningham; J Clarke (0-3), M McNamee (0-1), O McConville (0-6).
Garrycastle: C Mullin; M McCallon, J Gaffey, T McHugh; K Henson, D Harte, E Mulvihill; S O’Donoghue, D O’Shaughnessy; P Dillon (0-1), D Dolan (0-6), J Dolan (0-2); G Dolan (0-1), P Mulvihill (1-1), J Duignan (0-1).