Monday 9 December 2019

O'Neill leads Omagh rally to rock 13-man Crossmaglen

Omagh 2-8 Crossmaglen 1-9 - Ulster club SFC quarter-final

Conor Meyler of Omagh St Endas rises with Crossmaglen Rangers duo Paul McKeown and Padraig Studdard to win an aerial challenge during the Ulster SFC quarter-final. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Conor Meyler of Omagh St Endas rises with Crossmaglen Rangers duo Paul McKeown and Padraig Studdard to win an aerial challenge during the Ulster SFC quarter-final. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Title favourites Crossmaglen suffered a sensational defeat at the hands of Omagh, crashing out of Ulster at the first hurdle.

It was a dream result for the St Enda's, who won their first Tyrone title in 26 years a few weeks ago.

Now they find themselves in uncharted territory, preparing for a provincial semi-final.

The south Armagh men had two players sent off in the second half, and saw a seven-point lead overturned.

Ronan O'Neill's finishing was crucial, a 1-4 haul from the Red Hand star proving crucial.

Crossmaglen established a commanding platform at midfield through Johnny Hanratty and Rico Kelly, and with high-quality kick-passing, they were able to put the Omagh defence under pressure.

They comfortably overcame the handicap of conceding an early goal to O'Neill, who skipped past marker James Morgan to plant the ball in the net.

Jamie Clarke and Tony Kernan, along with Johnny Murtagh and Kyle Brennan, nailed points for the Rangers as they built up a 0-8 to 1-1 advantage.

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And they almost had a goal when Brennan sent Murtagh through, but his shot was superbly saved by Ryan Clarke.

The Armagh men did get a goal in the 29th minute, Padraig Stuttard smashing the ball past Clarke from Stephen Finnegan's pass.

Jason McAnulla responded with Omagh's first point from play, but it was the Rangers who led by 1-8 to 1-2 at the interval.

However, a series of significant events, allied to a now customary Omagh flourish, swung the game in dramatic fashion in the final quarter.

Kyle Brennan's 32nd-minute point proved to be Crossmaglen's final score.

The opening ten minutes of the second half featured a series of skirmishes which prompted referee Ciaran Branagan to issue a handful of yellow cards.

Joe McMahon and Conan Grugan seized control of the central battle, and with Conor Meyler and Aaron Grugan picking up broken possession and carrying the fight to the Armagh men, Omagh were on the rise even before Callum Comiskey, already booked, was black-carded on 48 minutes.

Worse was to follow for the 10-time Ulster champions as centre-back Barry Tierney made a lung-busting run to get on the end of Conor O'Donnell's cross and punch to the net.

Tony Kernan's red card reduced Cross to 13 men with ten minutes to play, and the Rangers were hanging by a thread.

Conan Grugan brought Omagh level, and it was O'Neill who gave the St Enda's the lead for the first time on 57 minutes, before sealing it in stoppage-time.

Scorers: Omagh: R O'Neill 1-4 (0-1f), B Tierney 1-0, C Grugan 0-2 (1f), C O'Donnell, J McAnulla 0-1 each. Crossmaglen: P Stuttard 1-0, T Kernan 0-3 (3f), K Brennan, J Clarke (1f) 0-2 each, M Aherne, J Murtagh 0-1 each.

Omagh: R Clarke, H Gallagher, Justin McMahon, S Mullan, C McLaughlin, B Tierney, C McMahon, Joe McMahon, C Grugan, A Grugan, J McAnulla, C McCarron, C O'Donnell, R O'Neill, C Meyler. Subs: C O'Neill for McCarron (h-t), J Colton for C McMahon ((56), D Kerr for McLaughlin (60).

Crossmaglen: P Hearty, S Finnegan, J Morgan, P Hughes, P Stuttard, P McKeown, M Aherne, J Hanratty, R Kelly, T Kernan, J Clarke, M McNamee, K Carragher, C Cumiskey, K Brennan. Subs: J Murtagh for Carragher (5), D McKenna for Brennan (43), A Kernan for Finnegan (48), A Cunningham for Hanratty (59).

Referee: C Branagan (Down).

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