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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 22 January, 2018


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We went minute-by-minute for Crossmaglen Rangers v Garrycastle in the All-Ireland Club SFC final — and it was an absolute belter. More please!

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this afternoon’s action. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Crossmaglen Rangers 0-15 Garrycastle 1-12

Good afternoon to those of you just joining us for the second part of this St Patrick’s Day double-bill; to those of you who’ve been with us for Loughgiel Shamrock’s brilliant win in the All-Ireland club hurling final, welcome back. I hope you’ve caught your breath.

But now, it’s Crossmaglen Rangers v Garrycastle in the football decider. Is it to be a remarkable sixth title in 15 years for Oisin McConville and then men from South Armagh, or can Garrycastle cause an upset and bring the All-Ireland across the Westmeath border for the first time ever?

Throw in is at 3.45pm, so we’re just about ready to go.

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.

Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; J Morgan, P Kernan, P McKeown; A Kernan, D O’Callaghan, B McKeown; J Hanratty, D McKenna; T Kernan, K Brennan, A Cunningham; J Clarke, M McNamee, O McConville.

Plenty of familiar names in action this afternoon and one of them — Westmeath veteran Dessie Dolan — opens the scoring with a free in the second minute. Crossmaglen 0-0 Garrycastle 0-1

James Dolan finishes off a wonderful team move to point Garrycastle’s first from play, but the ball is quickly moved down to the Hill 16 end where the brilliant Jamie Clarke opens his account for the afternoon. Crossmaglen 0-1 Garrycastle 0-2

Paul Dillon is a lucky, lucky boy. He squares up to Brendan McKeown right in front of referee Rory Hickey and definitely leans in with a headbutt. McKeown goes down in a heap but for some reason, Hickey decides that it’s only worthy of a yellow card.

James Duignan stretches Garrycastle’s lead but Tony Kernan pegs them back with his first. Garrycastle 0-3 Crossmaglen 0-2

The sides swap scores again — Dessie Dolan for Garrycastle and Aaron Kernan for Cross — before Tony Kernan is denied a great goal chance by Cathal Mullin who is quick off his line to nick the ball away. Crossmaglen 0-3 Garrycastle 0-4

McConville keeps the margin at one with a pointed free. It’s fast and furious in these opening 15 minutes, nothing between the two sides. Crossmaglen 0-4 Garrycastle 0-5

You can’t take your eyes off this for a second. No sooner than Dessie Dolan has swung over a free for Garycastle, Jamie Clarke is down the other end, ghosting past his marker to pop over a lovely score with his left boot. Garrycastle 0-6 Crossmaglen 0-5

GOAL! Crossmaglen 0-5 Garrycastle 1-6 (Mulvihill, 21′) A mistake by Paul Kernan in the Crossmaglen defence, and Garrycastle don’t need to be asked twice to take chances like this one. A long free drops on the edge of the Cross area, but Kernan can only bat it down to Patrick Mulvihill who strikes it low and hard into Hearty’s bottom-right corner.

Jamie Clarke has a sight of goal but under pressure, he wisely chooses to take his point instead. Crossmaglen 0-6 Garrycastle 1-6

Aaron Kernan is blocked off as he tries to play the ball out from the back and makes an uncharacteristic mistake, passing straight to James Dolan 10 yards out. The Garrycastle wing-forward won’t score an easier point today. Crossmaglen 0-6 Garrycastle 1-7

Aidan Browne stretches Garrycastle’s lead when he’s picked out in plenty of space by a quickly-taken free, but Michael McNamee points to ensure that Cross only go in four behind at the break. Crossmaglen 0-7 Garrycastle 1-8

HALF TIME: Crossmaglen 0-7 Garrycastle 1-8

Well, there was hardly time to draw breath in that first half. Real end-to-end stuff, but Anthony Cunningham was clearly the happier of the two managers as the teams headed off down the tunnel for the break. Garrycastle have been the more clinical in the opening 30 minutes, and Cross’ indiscipline is giving Dessie Dolan ample opportunity to point from dead balls.

Still, how many times have we seen Cross in this position before? They’re five-time champions for a reason, and often most dangerous when their backs are to the wall.

Scoring summary:

Garrycastle (1-8): D Dolan 0-3, P Mulvihill 1-0, J Dolan 0-2, P Dillon 0-1, J Duignan 0-1, A Browne 0-1.

Crossmaglen (0-7): J Clarke 0-3, A Kernan 0-1, T Kernan 0-1, M McNamee 0-1, O McConville 0-1.

Cross have early chances to rein Garrycastle in. Aaron Kernan drops in a free which is picked out of the air by Mullin underneath his crossbar.

RED CARD! (Tom McHugh, 35′) Garrycastle’s corner-back brings down Jamie Clarke as he bears down on goal, and referee Rory Hickey decides that it’s worthy of a second yellow card. A tiny bit harsh, perhaps, but Garrycastle will have to see this one out with 14.

McConville points the resulting free. A goal in it now. Crossmaglen 0-8 Garrycastle 1-8

RED CARD! (Paul Kernan, 39′) Cross’s numerical advantage only lasts for a couple of minutes as Paul Kernan is shown a second yellow. The full-back got himself in a bit of a tangle with Gary Dolan and ended up wrestling his man to the ground, so he has to go as well.

Dolan slots the free. Garrycastle now lead by five. Crossmaglen 0-9 Garrycastle 1-10

Here come Crossmaglen. The men from Armagh are attacking with real purpose now and Aaron and Tony Kernan both add a point either side of a wonderful goal chance for Jamie Clarke.

Clarke is odds-on to score as the ball drops to him in the area, but a combination of great goalkeeping by Mullin and a brilliant goal-line stop by Gaffey somehow keep him out. Crossmaglen 0-10 Garrycastle 1-10

This is shaping up to be an absolutely rip-roaring finale; Garrycastle simply haven’t been able to live with Cross in the last five or six minutes. They’re attacking with impunity through Tony Kernan on the right and his searching ball finds McConville, who shakes his marker to point. Crossmaglen 0-11 Garrycastle 1-10

If you can get yourself to a television, do so immediately — this one is going right down to the wire. To be fair, what else would you expect from the mighty Crossmaglen? Two frees yield two points for McConville and we’re all square for the first time since the second minute, by my calculations. Crossmaglen 0-13 Garrycastle 1-10

Brilliant stuff from James Dolan, who isn’t content to bow out of this one without a fight. He sets off on brilliant run and eventually forces Cunningham to concede a free. Cousin Dessie Dolan points, and Garrycastle lead with less than 10 minutes to play. Crossmaglen 0-13 Garrycastle 1-11

Mulvihill sidesteps McKeown’s despairing attempt to block his shot and kicks a point to move Garrycastle two up. Seven minutes to play, this one could go either way yet. Crossmaglen 0-13 Garrycastle 1-12

Hefty challenges are coming thick and fast. It’s a long free for Cross, but that’s no problem at all for Oisin McConville.

Johnny Hanratty shakes O’Shaughnessy and sticks over a beautiful score. All square as we move into the last four minutes. Crossmaglen 0-15 Garrycastle 1-12

Referee Rory Hickey gives a rather soft free against O’Donoghue, and McConville has a chance to put Crossmaglen in front for the first time in the match.

It’s by no means an easy effort, stuck out on the left touchline, and he misses just to the right.

We’re into the final minute of the 60, with two additional minutes to play. Who has the winner in them?

Ooooh, that was the chance for Crossmaglen. A long ball bounces behind the Garrycastle defence and Jamie Clarke beats Mullin to it, only to see his punched effort fall inches wide.

Cross surge forward again and Tony Kernan has a chance to work an angle, but takes on the shot himself and skews it badly wide. He’s had a brilliant game, but that’s not the smartest decision he’s ever made.

FULL TIME: Crossmaglen Rangers 0-15 Garrycastle 1-12

Garrycastle look to have one last chance to grab a winner, but Rory Hickey blows the final whistle before they’ve a chance to launch a long ball into the box.

What an absolutely brilliant game of Gaelic football, but these two will have to do it all over again in a replay. I, for one, cannot wait.

Man-of-the-match Tony Kernan, speaking to TG4:

It’s a huge anti-climax, we came down here to win the All-Ireland. We’re going home. We’re not out of it, I suppose that’s the positive. We’ll come back in a couple of weeks and hopefully finish the job.

We’re usually calm and collected in the dressing room. We didn’t play well [in the first half], we analysed where we were going wrong, we tried to rectify it.

But I suppose at the end, what was going wrong was that they were quicker to the breaks, they showed more hunger than us, and that’s something that we pride ourselves upon. To come to Croke Park and not show that hunger, something was wrong.

Thankfully in the second half, we managed to get ourselves back into it. We’re just disappointed that we haven’t finished the job.

Garrycastle manager Anthony Cunningham, speaking to TG4:

Two great sides and a great game, end-to-end stuff, so we’re delighted to get another crack at it. We were in a good position, but Crossmaglen had a few good chances there towards the finish as well, so maybe both sides would look at it as missed chances. We’ll be willing and ready and able to go again, probably on Sunday week.

Crossmaglen are kingpins of club football and showed all their experience there in the second half, but I think we’ll learn immensely from this match and as I said be ready for the next day.

We knew Crossmaglen would throw everything at us in the second half. They’ve done that, and they’re old sages at that. They do comebacks. So we were trying to get everybody to focus again and start again from nil-all.

It’s no fault of anybody’s and we’re delighted to get a second chance, that’s for sure.

Scoring summary:

Crossmaglen (0-15): O McConville 0-6, J Clarke 0-3, A Kernan 0-2, T Kernan 0-2, D McKenna 0-1, M McNamee 0-1.

Garrycastle (1-12): D Dolan 0-6, P Mulvihill 1-1, J Dolan 0-2, P Dillon 0-1, J Duignan 0-1, A Browne 0-1.

Sin é – what a fitting finale to a brilliant afternoon in Croke Park. Crossmaglen were brilliant in the second half, but just couldn’t find that final score to shake Garrycastle at the death.

A draw and a replay was no more than the men from Westmeath deserved, and they’ll have a chance to do it all again, probably in a fortnight’s time.

Thanks for joining us. Hopefully you enjoyed the afternoon as much as we did.

About the author:

Niall Kelly