Ulster Club SFC Final Replay:
Crossmaglen Rangers 0-12 Ballinderry Shamrocks 1-4
A determined fourth-quarter display sealed a seventh Ulster Club SFC success for Crossmaglen Rangers following a five-point replay victory over Ballinderry Shamrocks at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
In a game played in dry conditions, a somewhat disappointing opening half was overshadowed by an excellent second half display from both teams who produced some excellent football, with Oisin McConville the top scorer, finishing this game with five points, the margin between the sides at the full-time whistle.
As they had done in the drawn encounter two weeks previously, Crossmaglen began this game in determined fashion and were fully deserving of their 0-4 to 0-1 interval lead, with McConville kicking two first-half points.
But it was a first half dominated by some indecisiveness by both teams in front of the posts, with defences standing firm and Ballinderry Shamrocks in particular failing to capitalise on scoring opportunities, as the Derry champions could only manage a Conleith Gilligan point after ten minutes for all of their first half efforts.
Colin Devlin, Gilligan and Darren Conway were among those who had scoring chances for Shamrocks, who finished the first half with three wides, but had numerous other chances cleared by the Crossmaglen defence, with Paul Kernan putting in a man-of-the match display from his full-back berth.
A powerful Michael McNamee effort propelled Crossmaglen into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after eleven minutes, but amazingly just one further point was produced before the interval, with McConville slotting over his second pointed free in the 29th minute.
In a first half dominated by indiscipline and poor football, a flurry of yellow cards was issued by referee Brian Crowe in the 22nd minute as Crossmaglen brothers Aaron and Stephen Kernan and Ballinderry’s Raymond Wilkinson were booked following an incident in the midfield sector.
Crossmaglen Rangers continued to show some of their outstanding football pedigree on the restart with a brace of points to open the second half on a positive note.
It was a combination of experience and youth which powered Crossmaglen to a five-point lead within two minutes of the restart as veteran McConville slotted over his third point, which was quickly followed with an excellent score from the youthful Paul McKeown.
But Ballinderry quickly kept tabs on Crossmaglen’s advances as scores from Gilligan and midfielder James Conway edged the Derry champions within a goal of their opponents.
That vital three-pointer quickly followed as James Bateson’s 36th minute goal levelled the contest for the first time.
But despite the strong efforts of the half-time substitute this was as close as his side would get to a first Ulster glory since 2001 with Crossmaglen exerting dominance once again in the final quarter.
Rangers outscored their opponents by 0-4 to 0-1 during the last 15 minutes, with a brace of those scores coming from McConville including a 60th minute penalty strike, which the 33-year-old opted to slot over the crossbar to secure a five-point win and a first three-in-a-row since the 1980’s.
Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; P McKeown (0-1), P Kernan, B McKeown; A Kernan (0-1, 1f), F Bellew, J Donaldson; T McEntee, D McKenna; S Kernan, J McEntee, M McNamee (0-2); J Clarke (0-1), O McConville (0-5, 2f 1pen), J Murtagh (0-1). Subs: T Kernan for S Kernan (42); K Carragher (0-1) for Clarke (51); J Hanratty for Murtagh (55)
Ballinderry Shamrocks: M Conlon; D Bell, N McCusker, C Wilkinson; K McGuckin, R McGuckin, M Bell; J Conway (0-1), K M McGuckin; D Conway, C Gilligan (0-2, 1f), R Wilkinson; C Devlin, B McGuckin, M Harney (0-1). Subs: J Bateson (1-0) for B McGuckin (HT); S Rocks for K M McGuckin (Blood sub 45-48); P Wilson for D Bell (53); R Scott for Kevin M McGuckin (56)
Referee: Brian Crowe (Cavan)