Cross squeeze past Scotstown for 11th title in pulsating Ulster decider
Crossmaglen 2-17 Scotstown 2-12 (AET)
Published 29/11/2015 | 18:00
Crossmaglen drew on their vast reserves of experience and savvy to grind an 11th Ulster club title after extra-time in Armagh.
Scotstown had both Hughes brothers, Darren and Kieran, red carded in extra-time, Kieran's departure in the 65th minute critical to the direction this game went.
Scotstown will regret not killing the game off and landing their first provincial title in 35 years when they dominated coming down the last stretch.
Ultimately their desire in extra-time was overwhelming but the ability of Crossmaglen to run in so many fresh legs elevated them beyond a more limited Scotstown squad.
Jamie Clarke was among the 11 they introduced and had a big influence, laying off the final pass for Kyle Carragher's goal that wrapped it up in the 74th minute.
Scotstown had the impetus of an early goal when, on nine minutes, captain Donal Morgan's delivery deceived the Cross full-back line, falling kindly for Darren Hughes who prodded a shot beneath the advancing Paul Hearty for a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.
But the Armagh kingpins are too experienced and too assured in themselves to allow something like that to unnerve them.
Instead they did what they had done against Kilcoo in a similar situation two weeks earlier and stepped it up in the second quarter.
Aaron Kernan, who was briefly off the field after being stretchered off in the 12th minute was dominant with Martin Aherne across the half-back line while James Morgan began to gain parity after a difficult start on Hughes.
They dominated Rory Beggan's kick-out and put themselves in a more commanding position when Tony Kernan raced through for a cracking goal on 28 minutes to give them a 1-5 to 1-3 lead after Kieran Hughes spilled possession.
Cross led by 1-6 to 1-3 at the break and when Kyle Carragher added to that just after the restart the game took on a familiar feel.
But Scotstown picked off the next three points with Morgan and Shane Carey growing in influence and James Turley coming into it at midfield.
Cross got David Mckenna and Jamie Clarke into the action but their grip was weakening and Darren Hughes' switch to centre-forward really told for the Monaghan champions.
Substitute Danny O'Callaghan was sent off on 54 minutes for his involvement in an incident with Turley.
But Cross still forged ahead when Darren Hughes clipped Morgan and Tony Kernan slotted the free.
But Carey got Scotstown level again with a free to force extra-time.
Cross led by 1-13 to 1-11 at the end of the first period of extra-time and then squeezed hard in the second period with Carragher's goal, in between points from David McKenna and Padraig Stuttard nailing down victory.
James Morgan was also sent off in the final minute on a second yellow card for an incident with Darren Hughes who picked up a straight red.
Scorers - Crossmaglen Rangers: T Kernan 1-6 (0-5fs), K Carragher 1-2, J Murtagh 0-3, M McNamee, S Kernan, A Kernan (f), P Stuttard, C Cumiskey, D McKenna all 0-1 each.
Scotstown: S Carey 0-6 (5fs), D Hughes 1-0, B McGinnity 1-0 each, C McCarthy 0-2 (1f), D Morgan, E Caulfield, O Heaphey, R Beggan (45) all 0-1 each.
Crossmaglen Rangers: P Hearty; A Rushe, J Morgan, P Hughes; M Aherne, A Kernan, P McKeown; J Hanratty, R Kelly; S Kernan, M McNamee, T Kernan; K Carragher, J Murtagh, O O'Neill. Subs: D McKenna for Hanratty (ht), S Finnegan for Rushe (36), J Clarke for O'Neill (40), C Cumiskey for Kelly (45), D O'Callaghan for Aherne (50), A Cunningham for M McNamee (53), P Studdard replaced D O'Callaghan at the beginning of extra-time, G Carragher for Cunningham (ft), K Brennan for Murtagh (70), D McConville for S Kernan (74), A Cunningham for Carragher (76).
Scotstown: R Beggan; M Duffy, D McArdle, P Keenan; E Caulfield, K Hughes, F McPhillips; F Caulfield, J Turley; D Morgan, S carey, R Mckenna; C McCarthy, D Hughes, O Heaphey. Subs: B Boylan for McPhillips (31), D McCague for McKenna (43), B McGinnity for Heaphey (48), B McMeel for E Caulfield (76), D McNally for McArdle (78).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)