/ GAA

Crossmaglen 2-19 Garrycastle 1-07

Updated: Sunday, 01 Apr 2012 22:21

Garrycastle's Mark McCallon with Jamie Clarke of Crossmaglen Tension was high even before the ball was thrown in for the AIB All-Ireland Club SFC final replay
Garrycastle's Mark McCallon with Jamie Clarke of Crossmaglen Tension was high even before the ball was thrown in for the AIB All-Ireland Club SFC final replay

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Crossmaglen were crowned All-Ireland Club football champions for the sixth time following a convincing replay victory at Breffni Park.

Francis Hanratty hit the net in the fifth and 18th minutes, and veteran Oisin McConville scored four points as Cross built up a 2-08 to 0-04 interval lead.

Gary Dolan pulled back a Garrycastle goal, but Cross regained control to power home, with McConville finishing with six points as they shot nine of the game’s last 10 scores.

Hanratty gave the Ulster men a massive early boost when he fired home to the bottom corner of the net from Jamie Clarke’s superb pass in the fifth minute.

Earlier, Dessie Dolan had shot Garrycastle in front from a free, but it was already clear that the reigning champions were sharper and more incisive in their tackling than they had been at Croke Park a fortnight earlier.

McConville hooked over a trademark point, and further scores from Clarke and Tony Kernan had the Rangers ahead by 1-03 to 0-02 after 14 minutes.

But Dolan managed to break clear of marker James Morgan to shoot a couple of delightful scores from play to keep the Westmeath men in touch.

They suffered another huge setback, however, in the 18th minute when full-forward Hanratty struck for a second goal. Once again, the finish was deadly, giving goalkeeper Cathal Mullin no change to put his side six points clear

Paul McKeown and Aaron Kernan defended superbly as the Leinster champions battled desperately to turn the game back in their favour, and another volley of scores from Johnny Hanratty and McConville (3) sent Crossmaglen in with a commanding 2-8 to 0-4 interval lead.

There were signs of a Garrycastle revival in the early stages of the second half when they reduced the deficit to six points after Gary Dolan had collected a pass from brother Dessie to fire in a goal.

Substitute Conor Cosgrove slotted over a free, and the Westmeath men began to believe again, but their hopes were soon to be shattered by the resolve and passion that drives Crossmaglen Rangers.

They plugged all the holes at the back, and squeezed their opponents out of the game right to the end, restricting them to just two more points in the closing 34 minutes.

Aaron and Stephen Kernan were able to exploit gaps in the Westmeath defence to ping over points, and despite the efforts of Seanie O’Donoghue and David O’Shaughnessy to get things going in midfield, Garrycastle were fighting a losing battle.

McConville displayed his enduring class with two delightful points from play, and there were scores from Aaron Cunningham and goalscorer Hanratty.

Garrycastle almost got in for a goal, but Paddy Mulvihill fired his shot just wide, and with that late missed chance went their dream.

This was to be Crossmaglen’s day, and Stephen Kernan, who had missed the drawn game through suspension, proudly stepped up to accept the Andy Merrigan Cup.

Crossmaglen scorers: F Hanratty 2-1, O McConville 0-6 (2f), S Kernan, A Kernan (2f) 0-3 each, A Cunningham 0-2, J Hanratty, T Kernan, J Clarke, K Carragher 0-1 each.

Garrycastle scorers: G Dolan 1-0, D Dolan 0-4 (2f), C Cosgrove 0-2 (2f), D O’Shaughnessy 0-1.

Crossmaglen: P Hearty, J Morgan, P Kernan, P McKeown, A Kernan, D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan, J Hanratty, D McKenna, T Kernan, K Brennan, A Cunningham, J Clarke, F Hanratty, O McConville.

Subs: M McNamee for F Hanratty, M Aherne for T Kernan, K Carragher for Cunningham, G Carragher for P Kernan, K Brenann for McConville

Garrycastle: C Mullin, M McCallon, J Gaffey, T McHugh, K Henson, D Harte, E Mulvihill, S O’Donoghue, D O’Shaughnessy, P Dillon, D Dolan, J Dolan, G Dolan, P Mulvihill, J Duignan.

Subs: A Fox for McHugh, A Browne for Duignan, C Cosgrove for Dillon, J O’Shaughnessy for E Mulvihill

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).