Crossmaglen are given a fright before getting past Whitecross

Ryan Henderson was a driving force for Clann Eireann in their win over Armagh Pearse Og
Joe McManus

CROSSMAGLEN were made to sweat by underdogs Whitecross at Cullyhanna on Saturday before booking a place in the next round of the Donnelly Group Armagh SFC.

The south Armagh side progressed by a single point (0-17 to 1-13) and were joined at the next stage by defending champions Maghery, Armagh Harps, Granemore, Dromintee, Cullyhanna and Clann Eireann

Whitecross produced a stunning second half performance coming within a whisker of a major upset.

Even without Jamie Clarke, Rangers appeared to be heading for a runaway victory as they cruised to a 0-13 to 0-4 interval lead. It was very much the O’Neill brothers show in this opening period, Rian – just back from AFL trials Down Under – and Oisin sharing 0-11.

It had taken Whitecross 19 minutes to open their account but the second half turned out a different story, with Cross having to dig deep to repel a stirring comeback by their opponents in the final 20 minutes.

Whitecross put their shoulder to the wheel producing a performance of accuracy, purpose, pace and skill to  outscore their opponents 1-9 to 0-2 in that period.

A 50th minute Mark Shields goal was the game-changer and was followed by points from Conor Malone and Barry McKeown to make it 0-15 to 1-11

Rian O’ Neill came to the rescue for Cross as the contest began reaching boiling point. Everything the rising young star did had the stamp not only of class but of football genius.

A Michael McNamee injury-time point provided Rangers with some badly-needed breathing space pushing them three ahead, but the storm was far from over as the underdogs battled relentlessly to the final blast.

But despite sustained pressure and points from Malone and Cathal McSherry, their challenge just narrowly failed.

Defending champions Maghery were never really in trouble as they eased past Madden, 1-19 to 1-10, in Armagh yesterday.

Madden started the strongest, with full-forward Arron McKenna kicking a couple of scores in the opening minutes. However, Maghery found their feet after a patchy first five minutes and the introduction of Shea Tennyson saw them take control. Tennyson got three points from play, while Ben Crealey was on fire as they started to overrun their opponents.

Maghery were 10 points to the good at the break and, while Madden goaled early in the second-half, scores by Crealy, Conor Mackle, Stefan Forker, David Lavery and goalkeeper Johnny Montgomery were more than enough to see the champions through. 

Armagh Harps hadn’t it all their own way against Annaghmore at Pearse Og Park on Saturday  but experience and a purple patch in both halves reaped handsome dividends as they ran out 1-21 to 0-9 winners.

Harps fell 0-3 to 0-1 behind early but an Ultan Lennon penalty goal gave them a lead that was never relinquished.

It was 1-9 to 0-4 at the break and on the turnover both combatants swapped six points before Harps enjoyed another purple patch, this time nailing  seven scores without reply.

A much more inventive and energetic Granemore recorded a comfortable 1-20 to 2-11 victory over Tir na nOg at Maghery on Saturday.

With former county man Kieran Toner and Pete Carr calling the shots at midfield, the St Mary’s outfit were in the driving seat for most of the hour.

All but 0-4 of their tally came from play, wily full-forward Declan Doyle pocketing 0-6.

Dromintee made their charge in the second-half of their 2-20 to 2-12 win over Sarsfields in Armagh yesterday, hitting 1-4 in the opening exchanges after the break.

Kyle McKenna scored the goal in the 35th minute, intercepting a poor back-pass in the Sarsfield’s defence before dummying the keeper to score. From there on in, Dromintee were pretty much in control. Conor Martin, Chrissy Lynch – who came on as a substitute – Aidan Morgan were prominent in kicking scores in attack.

Sarsfield’s tried hard at the other end, with Paul McKeown kicking the scores, but they were never able to get closer than five points.

Last year’s beaten finalists St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna made light work of booking their second round spot with a comprehensive 13-point (3-17 to 1-10) victory at the Athletic Grounds last night.

Two cracking Ross McQuillan goals and a third of equal grandeur from Aodhan Conlon were the highlights of the opening half, which had the  sides joined at the hip on four occasions in the first quarter.

Cullyhanna led 3-8 to 0-5 at the break, their opponents only registering a single Niall Geoghan point in the second quarter.

Conlon had a clear-cut chance to wrap it up the start of the second half but had to settle for a point with a goal at his mercy.

Powered on by the unsinkable Malachy Mackin,  St Pat’s showed no let-up and by the 51st minute had gone on to outscore the Derrymacash side 0-8 to 0-2, Jason Duffy and Eugene Casey sharing 0-5.

Tones tagged on 1-3 near the end, Odhran  Magee’s injury-time goal the final piece of the action.

County Minor Conor Turbitt was the Clann Eireann hero scoring 1-5 from play in a 2-12 to 1-10 win over Armagh Pearse Og at the Athletic Grounds last night.

A scrambled Tony Gorman goal four minutes from time had brought the Ogs level but two minutes later the dashing young Turbitt handed the Lurgan men back their goal advantage with an exquisite  finish. 

Clann Eireann drew first blood with a Jack Wilson goal after 7 minutes and the full-forward should have had a second but was denied by keeper Cillian Reid.

Points from Conleth McGillan (2) and Anthony Duffy levelled the contest but three pointed Conor McConville frees had the winners a point up. Ogs, with  two spectacular injury-time scores from the Duffy brothers – Paul and Anthony – were 0-7 to 1-3 ahead at the break.

In the second half, Clann Eireann showed greater class. Turbitt produced a string of scores and veteran Ryan Henderson was always at the heart of their drive.

Donnelly Group Senior Football Championship round one

Ballymacnab 2-16 Culloville Blues 1-9

Tir na nÓg 2-11 Granemore 1-20

Whitecross 1-13 Crossmaglen Rangers 0-17

Armagh Harps 1-21 Annaghmore 0-9

St Patrick’s, Dromintee 2-20 Sarsfields 2-12

Madden 1-10 Maghery Seán MacDiarmada 1-19

Wolfe Tones 1-10 St Patrick’s 3-17

Pearse Og 1-10 Clann Eireann 2-12

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