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In The Irish News: Aug 11 1997: Close shave for Crossmaglen in Armagh SFC

Crossmaglen's John McEntee 

BEFORE a capacity crowd at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh last night, Crossmaglen’s All-Ireland crown almost slipped, before running out 3-5 to 0-10 winners in this Armagh SFC semi-final, .

They lived dangerously for lengthy periods in a somewhat extraordinary game which was totally transformed in a bizarre four-minute spell in the first half.

Trailing 0-5 to 0-1 after 20 minutes, Rangers turned that four-point deficit into a six-point advantage with 3-1 and it looked as if the Clan’s challenge had melted in the evening sun.

Anything but.

They took the favourites by storm in the third quarter with five unanswered points only to lose their way again.

Cross were minus two of their All-Ireland half back line, Joe Fitzpatrick and Gary McShane, and it showed.

Rangers were reduced to 14 men in the second half, midfielder Anthony Cunningham sent off, having been earlier booked.

Clan’s were unable to exploit this situation.

A worried Rangers had only scored two points in 40 minutes and not at all for 22 minutes in the second half, were thrown a lifeline by veteran Jim McConville.

At the end of normal time they were holding on gamely to a precarious two point lead when up popped the McEntee twins, Tony and John, with their insurance points.

Clan’s never scored after Cunningham’s departure while they themselves finished with 14 men, Barry O’Hagan ordered off in the dying moments.

Crossmaglen: P Hearty, M Calliff, D Murtagh, P McKeown, P Moley, F Bellew, M McShane, J McEntee (0- 1), A Cunningham, C Short (2-1), T McEntee (0-1), O McConville (1-1), J McConville (0-1), D Cumiskey, C O’Neill.

Subs: M Moley for Cumiskey (35 mins), K Donnelly for C O’Neill (48 mins).

Clan na Gael: T France, P McKenna, N Morrow, M O’Hagan, P O’Hagan, K O’Hagan (0-2), J Lavery, B McCabe, B O’Hagan (0-2), J Campbell (0-4), D Marsden (0-1), G McCaugherty, P Oldham, J French (0-1), M Lavery.

Subs: J P O’Hagan for P O’Hagan (47 mins), S Boyd for M O’Hagan (59 mins).

Referee: Brendan Gorman (St Paul’s)

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SUCH was the interest in Paolo Di Canio’s midweek departure to Sheffield Wednesday, that Regi Blinker’s arrival at Parkhead was less heralded than it might have been.

It was as if Di Canio had stormed out the front door, while Blinker was quietly escorted through the tradesman’s entrance after the £4.5million exchange deal, which saw a cash adjustment of £3million in Celtic’s favour.

But Blinker took the first important step to establishing himself with a starring role in Celtic’s sparkling 7-0 Coca-Cola Cup success against Berwick, scoring once and featuring prominently throughout.

Despite it being against modest third division opposition, Saturday’s display was enough to make him feel at home and firmly out of a certain Italian’s shadow.

He said: “I think it was important for me to make a good early impression as I have a point to prove both to the fans and myself.

“I wondered if the Celtic support would see me as a replacement for Di Canio, but it was no problem once I was into the match.

“I am not the second Paolo Di Canio, just the first Regi Blinker ready to start afresh.”

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TOMMY Evans (Banbridge CC) won the Mid-Ulster Grand Prix in a sprint from a 10-man group which went away on the third of nine 6.5 mile laps in Cookstown.

In second place was Davy McCall (Maryland Wheelers) a double winner at Nutts Corner on Saturday

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SEAN Doherty earned Lavey a replay with a well-taken point in the fourth minute of added time in a tremendous Derry SFC game which had high drama, great excitement and real controversy.

Seamus Downey scored a third-minute goal to put Lavey 1-1 to 0-0 ahead but points from Ryan Murphy and Joe Brolly narrowed the gap by the 10th minute.

Then a long punt by Paul Murphy was superbly fisted to the net by his brother Ryan to give Dungiven a 1-2 to 1-1 lead.

Mulholland levelled but Grieve and Brolly responded for Dungiven, Gareth Murphy’s 20th minute score putting them 1-5 to 1-2 ahead.

Mulholland and Downey again narrowed the gap, McGonigle and Downey closing a rip-roaring first half with points to leave Dungiven 1-7 to 1-5 ahead at the break.

They led until the 58th minute when sub Michael McCormick was pulled down and the referee dramatically pointed to the penalty spot when it seemed that the Lavey player seemed well outside the penalty area when he was fouled.

Gary Doyle tucked the penalty inside the post to put Lavey one point ahead.

However a minute later Paul Murphy fired over a long-range equaliser and then Joe Brolly seemed to have won the game when he curled over a 45-metre free in the third minute of stoppage time.

There was still time however and the unmarked Doherty picked up a loose clearance, when a Downey free was punched away, and slotted over the equaliser.

Lavey: B Regan, D Doherty, A Scullion, B Scullion, S Doherty (0-1), H Downey, K McGurk, G Doyle (1-0 penalty), O Collins, G Cushenhan, B McCormick, F Rafferty, C McGurk (0-1), S Downey (1-5 – five frees), D Mulholland (0-2).

Subs: M McCormick for G Cushenhan, J Shivers for F Rafferty.

Dungiven: O McCloskey, S Heavern, K McKeever, E McKeever, G Murphy (0-2), B McGonigle, P McCloskey, B McGilligan, R McCloskey, P Murphy (0-1), G McGonigle (0- 1), E Kelly (0-1), J Brolly (0-4 – two frees), R Murphy (1-2), C Grieve (0-1 – free).

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