Crossmaglen determined to reach Croker summit again -- McConville
Oisin McConville says Crossmaglen Rangers have removed themselves from their "comfort zone" and are determined to establish themselves as the best club team in Ireland once more.
Former All-Ireland winner McConville put off his stag, which was scheduled for last weekend -- he gets married in January -- after the Ulster club final was refixed for last Sunday in Kingspan Breffni Park.
But such a sacrifice was small as Cross cashed in on a new wave of "professionalism" in their preparations that have seen them revert to some old methods to get fit again.
After 13 consecutive Armagh titles, Cross lost to Pearse Og last year but that was the perfect wake-up call, McConville now admits.
"Maybe that was something we needed," he said. "We needed to lose one in order to come back and achieve more. We were in a comfort zone, Pearse Ogs knocked us out of our comfort zone and we're back now."
McConville admitted that he contemplated retirement at the start of the season but was coaxed to stay on by the new management team, former playing colleagues Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill.
"At the start of the year, I didn't know whether I was going to come back or not. A few us were in that boat.
"Gareth and Tony asked us to see how the training went in January and February.
"It was good and refreshing. It turned the thing around. It was more professional than it had been, the training has gone back a few ages but it was exactly what we needed.
"We were in a comfort zone for too long winning championships and we're back now, working harder than ever."
McConville said the ambition was to regain the Armagh title first and foremost, anything else after that was a bonus.
"When we won an Armagh title this year, we wanted to win an Ulster title. When we won an Ulster now we want to win an All-Ireland. Whether we do or not, that is up to ourselves."
He praised the dedication of fellow veterans Francie Bellew and John McEntee who have been used as impact substitutes during the campaign.
"Francie was brilliant again. When he came on in the county final, he got man-of-the-match. He's working hard, John is working hard. It doesn't matter if you are 35 or 17, we're all working hard on this team."
Crossmaglen now meet British champions Neasden Gaels in an All-Ireland quarter-final in January.