Club football final ends in stalemate

Crossmaglen (Armagh) 0-15 Garrycastle (Westmeath) 1-12
Crossmaglen may be forced to count the cost of a rash of late misses that handed Garrycastle a second chance in a thrilling All-Ireland Club SFC final at Croke Park.

The defending champions had the first-timers from Westmeath on the rack in the closing stages, but failed to take the chances that should have landed them a fifth title.

Garrycastle led by five points at one stage early in the second half, and heroically resisted another famous Cross fightback, but it was backs-to-the-wall stuff in the final 10 minutes as the Armagh men swept forward in waves.

The Rangers shot seven of the last nine points of an enthralling contest played out in front of a crowd of 25,412, and now they will have an opportunity to witness the sequel when the sides meet again.

Garrycastle displayed no fear of the awe-inspiring reputation the south Armagh men took to the contest.

They settled their big match nerves with early scores from Dessie Dolan, who converted a free before setting up his cousin James for a second.

The Leinster men led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 10 minute, with James Duignan hitting the target, before Des Dolan floated over a superb effort from play.

Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan had got the Crossmaglen challenge going with a couple of points, but it was Garrycastle who carried the edge in confidence and attacking threat.

They led by 0-6 to 0-5 after Clarke had cut the deficit with a superb point, but Garrycastle made a major breakthrough with a 21st minute goal.

Seanie O’Donoghue’s sideline ball fell to Patrick Mulvihill, who sent a low shot just inside a post and beyond the despairing dive of Paul Hearty.

McConville sent Clarke through for another point, but Garrycastle stretched their lead through James Dolan and blood sub Aidan Browne.

The Westmeath men led by 1-8 to 0-7 at the break, but were reduced to 14 men five minutes after the restart when corner back Tom McHugh picked up a second booking.

McConville and Dessie Dolan swapped frees, and in the 39th minute, numerical parity was restored when Crossmaglen full back Paul Kernan was sent off following a second booking.

Cross had a golden goal chance when Tony Kernan’s cross picked out Clarke, who saw his effort come back off a post, and his second attempt from the rebound was cleared off the line by Mark McCallon.

But Cross were now in the ascendancy, with David McKenna and Johnny Hanratty getting on top at midfield and Aaron Kernan pressing forward with purpose.

They shot four points on the spin to go level, three of them from veteran McConville, who shot a superlative effort from play to inspire his team-mates.

But Garrycastle responded with another flourish, going back in front through Des Dolan and goalscorer Mulvihill.

The Ulster and All-Ireland champions turned up the heat in the final eight minutes, McConville’s sixth score followed by McKenna’s leveller, but four more chances were wasted, and the teams will have to battle it out again.

Crossmaglen scorers: O McConville 0-6 (5f), J Clarke 0-3, A Kernan, T Kernan 0-2 each, D McKenna, M McNamee 0-1.

Garrycastle scorers: P Mulvihill 1-1, D Dolan 0-6 (5f), J Dolan 0-2, P Dillon (f), J Duignan, A Browne 0-1 each.

Crossmaglen: 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.

Subs: S Finnegan for B McKeown, K Carragher for Brennan, M Aherne for McNamee, F Hanratty for Carragher

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 Browne (blood) for O’Donoghue, R McGowan for Duignan, Browne for G Dolan, A Fox for Henson, A Daly for Dillon

Referee: R Hickey (Clare).

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