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Race For Glory: 2012 Ulster Club SFC

They’re down to the last four in the Ulster Club SFC this weekend. Here’s a closer look at the teams involved.

Crossmaglen's Oisin McConville and St Gall's Colin Brady.
Crossmaglen's Oisin McConville and St Gall's Colin Brady.
Image: INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard

Fixtures

Nov 18th
Semi-finals: Errigal Ciaran (Tyrone) v Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh)), St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2.15pm, (Ref: Joe McQuillan, Cavan).
Kilcoo (Down) v St Gall’s (Antrim), The Athletic Grounds, 2.30pm, (Ref: Martin Sludden, Tyrone).

Dec 2nd
Final

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CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS – (Armagh)
How have they reached this stage? A third successive Armagh title, and their 16th in 17 seasons, was collected by Crossmaglen with a 3-9 to 0-11 final win over Pearse Óg. And they kept up their winning ways with a professional and impressive win over Donegal’s St Eunan’s by 3-11 to 1-7 last Sunday at the Athletic Grounds.

What’s their track record at this level? No other team still left in the competition can come close to touching Crossmaglen in terms of experience or trophies garnered in the provincial arena. 2009 was the only season since 1996 that they have not featured in Ulster.

They have made a decent fist of their forays outside of their county borders as well. On nine occasions Crossmaglen have inscribed their name on the Ulster club roll of honor and that has occurred five times in the last six years.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Aaron Kernan, Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan all saw game time for the Orchard County in this year’s senior inter-county championship. But it has been a bone of contention amongst the South Armagh club giants that they have not had greater representation.

Interesting then to observe that James Morgan, Paul McKeown, Stephen Finnegan and Johnny Hanratty have all been recruited to new manager Paul Grimley’s initial squad for the 2013 season. And of course goalkeeper Paul Hearty and attacker Oisin McConville enjoyed distinguished Armagh careers before retiring in recent years.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Still eligible for the U21 ranks this season, James Morgan has forged a reputation as a terrific defender. Corner-back on last March’s All-Ireland winning Crossmaglen team, a position where he did a superb job in quietening Colm Cooper in the semi-final against Dr Crokes, he has stepped forward to the centre-back role of late.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winner and Crossmaglen club stalwart Tony McEntee is the joint-manager along with Gareth O’Neill.

The odds on a title win? 4/7.

ERRIGAL CIARAN – (Tyrone)
How have they reached this stage? County honours were achieved by Errigal Ciaran for the first time in six years with a final win over Dromore. They have maintained their progress in Ulster as they despatched Cavan champions Mullahoran in comfort in the preliminary round with an 17-point win.

The quarter-final win against Derry kingpins Ballinderry was tighter but was hugely satisfying as they prevailed with just a point to spare.

What’s their track record at this level? Errigal Ciaran have reigned supreme in the province twice, in 1993 when they beat Downpatrick in the final and in 2000 when they achieved a decider victory over Enniskillen Gaels. There’s been final defeats to suffer as well and both times to Derry opponents – in 1997 to Dungiven and in 2000 to Bellaghy.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? John Devine, Aidan McCrory and Peter Harte were regular fixtures in the Tyrone senior squad this year managed by another Errigal Ciaran clubman in Mickey Harte. Davy Harte has plenty experience with the Red Hands as well while Enda McGinley was involved until he retired last November.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? The bloodlines are good with Tommy Canavan given that his uncle Peter was the county’s talisman for several years. The youngster has acquitted himself will in lining out at centre-forward on the 2010 All-Ireland minor winning Tyrone team and shot 0-5 in Errigal Ciaran’s recent win over Ballinderry, including the match-winning score.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Ballinderry native Ronan McGuckin enjoyed a distinguished career at club level and is now at the helm of the Tyrone outfit. Made the notable decision to step down from his role for the last game due to the fact that his home club were in the opposition corner but is now back in charge.

The odds on a title win? 13/2.

Stefan Tierney and Thomas Canavan of Errigal Ciaran celebrate at the end of the game. Pic: INPHO/Presseye/Andrew Paton

KILCOO – (Down)
How have they reached this stage? Kilcoo won their second Down county title in four years with a triumph over Mayobridge and they then enjoyed a rewarding trip to Clones by defeating Ballybay in the Ulster quarter-final by 0-13 to 0-7.

What’s their track record at this level? Kilcoo have only experienced one Ulster club football campaign before this year when they emerged from the Down championship in 2009. In the opening round they got the better of Donegal’s St Eunan’s by 0-13 to 0-9 before bowing out against Derry side The Loup by 1-12 to 1-11 at the semi-final stage.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Livewire attacker Conor Laverty featured on a frequent basis with James McCartan’s Down football side this summer. While defender Aiden Branigan also has represented the Mourne men regularly at senior level.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Jerome Johnston came to the fore for the St Colman’s (Newry) team who won the Hogan Cup last year and he has maintained that bright attacking form, shooting 0-4 in Kilcoo’s recent win over Ballybay.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Jim McCorry, who is in his second stint as club senior manager, is the Kilcoo supremo at present.

The odds on a title win? 15/2.

The Kilcoo team celebrating their Down county final triumph. Pic: INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard

ST GALL’S – (Antrim)
How have they reached this stage? A six-point win over St John’s clinched victory for St Gall’s in the Antrim county final and then they then dismissed Fermanagh’s Tempo Maguire’s with ease in their recent Ulster quarter-final tie.

What’s their track record at this level? With 11 Antrim title wins in the last 12 seasons, St Gall’s have plenty experience of the provincial game. They have succeeded as well with three Ulster crowns claimed in 1982 against Roslea Shamrocks, in 2005 against Bellaghy and in 2009 against The Loup.

They also fell just short at the final hurdle in 2003 against The Loup and in 2007 against Crossmaglen Rangers. Two years ago they enjoyed the club’s greatest day with an All-Ireland club final success against Clare’s Kilmurry-Ibrickane.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? St Gall’s have a bunch of players who have donned the Antrim senior football jersey like goalkeeper Chris Kerr, defenders Colin Brady and Anto Healy, midfielder Aodhan Gallagher and attacker Kevin Niblock.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? In a team built on experience, their gifted attacker CJ McGourty, who is still only 24, is a wonderful talent with a superb left peg with which he can register scores.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Omagh native Carl McCabe and Errigal Ciaran clubman Christopher ‘Tiffy’ Quinn are the club’s joint managers having replaced the All-Ireland winning boss Lenny Harbinson.

The odds on a title win? 3/1.

2012 Munster Club SFC team-by-team guide

2012 Connacht Club SFC team-by-team guide

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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