Sunday 21 January 2018

Kernan seeks replay home comforts after Kilcoo give champions a scare


Johnny Hanratty of Crossmaglen Rangers exchanges words with Kilcoo’s Paul Greenan
Johnny Hanratty of Crossmaglen Rangers exchanges words with Kilcoo’s Paul Greenan
Greenan reacts after hitting the side-netting in extra-time

Orla Bannon (after extra-time)

Ulster Club SFC Quarter-Final

Joe Kernan has called on his team's replay with Kilcoo to be played in Crossmaglen following the sides' draw after extra-time.

The Armagh and Down champions could not be separated after 80 bad-tempered minutes in Newry, which featured eight yellow cards and a number of scuffles both on the pitch and in the stand.

Crossmaglen started without Aaron Kernan, who has an Achilles heel injury which will rule him out for two months.

Aaron Cunningham also failed to start due to injury but his manager expects to have him available for the replay, wherever it is played.

"Crossmaglen is an Ulster ground, and we should have that match at home and that's a fact," said Kernan. "We will be looking for it during the week."

Kilcoo boss Jim McCorry smiled when told of Kernan's comments.

"We will play Crossmaglen wherever it is played, but we expect it to be in the Athletic Grounds," he said. "I'm sure the Ulster Council will see sense and play it in the No 1 county ground (in Armagh)."


Kilcoo made most of the running in normal time but still needed a monster 50m free from Darragh O'Hanlon in the 81st minute of the game to snatch an equaliser.

"The last free, I don't know why it was brought up," Kernan said. "Our player had his back to the ball walking away and he moved it up. Some of the refereeing decisions were very poor today but we get on with it and the next day we will be ready for battle again."

Kilcoo led by 1-3 to no score after 16 minutes, Ryan Johnson palming the ball into the net after 11 minutes. The Down champions outmuscled Cross, who were slow to get up to the pitch of the game.

Tony Kernan, who had a superb game, got the opening score for the four-in-a-row chasing Ulster champions in the 21st minute with a free. His brother Stephen hit a crucial point from play which rescued a bleak situation for Crossmaglen, to reduce the deficit to 1-3 to 0-3 at half-time.

Cross had a good spell in the third quarter, with Kilcoo failing to score for 27 minutes either side of half-time. Cross narrowed the gap to a single point, but two points from Paul Devlin put Kilcoo back on top.

Kilcoo were still four points ahead with five minutes remaining and looking like causing a shock, before Stephen Kernan capitalised on a defensive blunder to score a goal for Cross in the 56th minute.

A point from a narrow angle from Martin Aherne forced extra-time as the sides finished level on 1-7 apiece. Crossmaglen took the lead for the first time in the game through a free from Tony Kernan seven minutes into extra-time.

Almost immediately, Kilcoo reasserted their dominance when Paul Greenan beat Paul Hearty to a high ball and fisted it to the net, but Kyle Brennan responded with two points within a minute.

There was still nothing between the teams at half-time in extra-time, with the scoreline 1-10 to 2-7.

Johnny Hanratty and Tony Kernan put Cross ahead again and it looked like they had weathered the storm until Kilcoo converted two late frees, including the monster effort from O'Hanlon, to set up a replay next week.

"It was two teams in a war of attrition to try and win an Ulster club championship match," said McCorry. "I thought our guys had superb discipline.

"Crossmaglen are a physical side and so are we. It's terrible when you know you had the Ulster champions beat and gifted it away.

"But we're certainly not going into next week's game with an inferiority complex. We gave them some fright."

Joe Kernan added: "We expected nothing less, that's the way it is when you're the champions. Everyone wants to shoot you down but the boys were magnificent I thought."

Scorers – Kilcoo: R Johnston 1-1, D O'Hanlon 0-4 (3fs), P Devlin 0-3 (1f), P Greenan 1-0, Gerard McEvoy. Crossmaglen: T Kernan 0-6fs, S Kernan 1-1, K Brennan 0-2, J Hanratty, M Aherne, C Cumiskey 0-1 each.

KILCOO – S Kane; N Branagan, N McEvoy, D Branagan; D O'Hanlon, S O'Hanlon, Gerard McEvoy; P Greenan, Aidan Branagan; P Devlin, A Devlin, R Johnston; J Johnston, C Laverty, Gary McEvoy. Subs: F McGreevy for J Johnston (24), Aaron Branagan for A Devlin (39), J McClean for McGreevy (39), Sean Devlin for Gary McEvoy (52), S Devlin for A Branagan (70), M Devlin for R Johnston (76), N Morgan for M Devlin (80).

CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS – P Hearty; P Hughes, P McKeown, S Finnegan; M Aherne, G Carragher, D O'Callaghan; J Hanratty, S Kernan; P Og Grant, T Kernan, M McNamee; K Brennan, K Carragher, C Cumiskey. Subs: D McKenna for Brennan (43), C O'Neill for McNamee (53), M Boyce for Cumiskey (56), K Brennanfor Grant (66).

REF – B Cassidy (Derry)

Irish Independent

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