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Frank Roche: Cross' bred for another final say

AIB ULSTER CLUB SFC FINAL: Crossmaglen (Armagh) v Burren (Down)(Morgan Athletic Grounds, Tomorrow, 3.15)

NAME three events that keep on happening, winter after winter. One, the perennial generosity of Mr Claus. Two, the perennial penny-pinching of the latest austerity Budget. And three, the perennial appearance of Crossmaglen in yet another Ulster club football final.

Their record is remarkable, and yet seeing them back is utterly unremarkable at this stage.

Manager Tony McEntee wasn't best pleased with their second-half performance against Ballinderry last day out, but they had been sublime in the first period and the fact remains that after the Derry men edged back to within a point, Cross' riposted with the last three.

Suffice to say, they are past-masters at getting over the line.

The south Armagh men have never lost an Ulster final. We don't see that changing just yet.

ODDS: Crossmaglen 1/3, Draw 15/2, Burren 3/1

VERDICT: Crossmaglen

Na Piarsaigh to prevail


Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) v Crusheen (Clare)

(Semple Stadium, Tomorrow 2.0, live TG4)

ONE of the great qualities of the AIB club competition is its enduring ability to throw up new and hitherto unheralded champions.

So it will be in Thurles as first-time Limerick champions, Na Piarsaigh, are going for their first Munster crown.

Crusheen are likewise in unchartered terrain: having successfully defended their Clare title (won for the first time last year) they have now stepped up to the Munster plate by seeing off Carrigtwohill of Cork courtesy of a power-packed second-half performance.

Still, you get the sense this could be Na Piarsaigh's year.

They trailed Ballygunner by seven points with 24 minutes remaining in their semi-final ... cue a three-goal salvo, the first one brilliantly rifled home by rookie Limerick star Kevin Downes, that saw them stun the fancied Waterford men and run out 3-9 to 0-12 winners.

ODDS: Na Piarsaigh 4/5, Draw 8/1, Crusheen 5/4

VERDICT: Na Piarsaigh