©INPHO/Cathal Noonan Crossmaglen Rangers' James Morgan tackles Dessie Dolan of Garrycastle.
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Confident Garrycastle will put it up to Cross again - McNulty

Laois manager Justin McNulty accepts that this afternoon’s All-Ireland Club SFC final replay is too hard to call.

JUSTIN MCNULTY EXPECTS to see a more confident Garrycastle when they line out for the All-Ireland club football final replay against Crossmaglen Rangers.

The Westmeath club led by five points during the drawn game on St Patrick’s Day before Crossmaglen showed the defiance which has won them five national titles in 15 seasons and rallied to force this afternoon’s replay in Kingspan Breffni Park.

Although Garrycastle fell agonisingly short of making history as Westmeath’s first All-Ireland champions, McNulty predicts that they will grow in stature after their spirited fight against the holders.

But having played against near neighbours Crossmaglen in Armagh Championships and alongside many of their star names in county colours, the man from Mullaghbawn knows that you can never bet against Tony McEntee’s men.

“It’s a hard one to call,” he admits. “I think Crossmaglen and the experience they have of being in this situation so many times in the past must stand to them, but it certainly won’t be easy.

Garrycastle now will have got confidence knowing ‘we can actually beat these boys, we can compete with these boys’ and it’s a game they could have won. I think Garrycastle will have gained confidence, Crossmaglen have the experience, so it’s a question of which one has more significance in the game.

In the immediate aftermath of the drawn game, Garrycastle manager Anthony Cunningham said that his boys would be “delighted to get another crack at it”, while Crossmaglen’s Tony Kernan was instead left to ruminate on the one that got away after he and his team-mates squandered decent scoring opportunities late on.

“When Crossmaglen have a chip on their shoulder or a chip on both shoulders, they’re a different animal,” McNulty accepts. “I think that might stand to them in the next game.”

Another bonus for Cross is that they will have their captain Stephen Kernan to lead them out this after he missed out on the drawn game through suspension.

“Stephen’s a quality player. I played with him in Armagh as well, he’s a top quality player and he’ll be hugely significant in terms of the outcome.”

It’s really too hard; I think ultimately Crossmaglen’s experience will carry them over the line.

As it happened: Crossmaglen Rangers v Garrycastle, All-Ireland Club SFC final