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Where are they now?: JIM McCONVILLE (Former Armagh footballer)

Crossmaglen Rangers have been prominent in the All-Ireland club football championship since the mid 1990s. When they won their first title back in 1997, Jim McConville was the captain and he recalls this time as his greatest football memory.

"We never thought we would get that far, it all just came together that year," he recalls. "It was a combination of good management and good players coming along at the right time. Lifting the cup and playing with such legendary footballers was an honour for me and I'll never forget it."

After that victory the club went from strength to strength. They went on to repeat the feat in 1999 and again added to their silverware the following year when Anthony Cunningham guided the club to their third All-Ireland title.

"Those titles gave a great boost to the club and the area," McConville adds. "We were used to a bit of success but not on such a large scale. We had started to accept defeat too easy, we hadn't won a title in ten years so we got the wake-up call we needed.

"It was fantastic for the area. After we started being successful again, a lot more people got involved in football. There is great life within football and it is a great social outlet as well -- it's not all just playing the game, it's about the community meeting up and getting together. It was especially important to us when there was trouble here. It provided a great escape for people; they could concentrate on something else rather than the negative publicity we were getting."

Crossmaglen's most recent title came in 2007, when they beat Dr Crokes of Killarney after a replay. For the fourth time in a decade the Andy Merrigan Cup returned to Armagh. McConville was looking forward to today's Ulster final but he will have to wait until next weekend to go to Clones to support his brother Oisín and his club, as the game fell foul of the adverse weather conditions.

"It's going to be tough , Ulster club finals are always hard-fought. Sometimes it's just a case of pulling out all the stops just to get over the line. We are well capable of winning. And if you come through an Ulster campaign, you are probably well geared up for the competition that comes after. "

McConville owns and runs a pub in Crossmaglen and is still hugely involved in the GAA club.

Sunday Independent