GAA Football

Carrickcruppen are hoping to go against the Grane

Carrickcruppen's Billy Joe Padden
Andy Watters and Joe McManus

Armagh Senior Football Championship Qualifying round one: Carrickcruppen v Granemore (Sunday, Crossmaglen 4pm)

CARRICKCRUPPEN and Granemore look to recover from heavy first round defeats when they meet in the first round of Armagh Senior Football Championship Qualifiers at Crossmaglen tomorrow.

Granemore were put to the sword by Cross, 4-15 to 1-7, in the opening round of the Orchard championship while Carrickcruppen lost 2-13 to 0-8 against Stevie McDonnell’s Killeavy in their first outing.

Both sides have had plenty of time to regroup since and ‘Cruppen’ will hope a change of format brings better fortune along with it. The south Armagh side has had no luck with injuries this season and have lost 11 out of 14 league games.

Billy Joe Padden says the return of championship action is a welcome distraction for the side managed by Danny Hughes and Benny Coulter.

“It’s an opportunity for both teams to get back on track,” said the former Mayo and Armagh star.

“It’s like a break for us because we’ve had such a difficult league campaign. We lost a lot of close games and we were understrength for a lot of it, we didn’t have key players like Barry Loughran, James Hughes and Stephen Harold.

“When you’re missing your county players and you’re down on your luck like that you need everybody you can get. It’s going to be very difficult for us, but there have been some encouraging performances this season and if we can get a performance like that you never know.

“We’re getting a few fellas back and the great thing about the championship is that sometimes you never know what you have until you get out on the pitch.

“We’re away from the grind of the league and we’re looking at it as a match on it’s own and we’ll give it a good shot.”

Granemore will be thinking along the same lines. They have also struggled in the league but, with two games to go, sit four points above Carrickcruppen.

“We’ve one league left and it’s against them,” Padden explained.

“We’re in a relegation battle and we really need to win so if we can beat them on Sunday it’ll do our league form no harm either. That’s an added incentive for us – we should be looking to get the psychological edge.”

Both teams would be among the long-shots to wrestle the Gerry Fegan Cup away from Crossmaglen but despite being hammered in the opening round the defending champions, Granemore have warmed to this higher grade of competition.

Former Ulster Championship-winning Armagh midfielder Kieran Toner, who opted out of football last season through injury, could make a return and defensively they will be relying on Tony McClelland, Rory Conroy and Padraig Hollywood.

At midfield Brendan Boylan is highly capable of making his presence felt, while up front the onus will be on Jason O’Neill, Declan Doyle and the Raffertys, county star Caolan and Ryan and Shane, to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Carrickcruppen are likely to be without Armagh midfielder Harold so to advance they will look to the likes of James Magill, David Kelly, James Burns, James Loughran, Declan Carville, Padden, Blaine Malone, Stephen Loughran and Declan Monaghan.

Losing to Killeavy in the opening round, coupled with poor league form augurs poorly for the south Armagh representatives who have the personnel to do better.

Superbly led by skipper James Lavery, Maghery completely outmanoeuvred city side Pearse Óg at the Athletic Grounds on Friday night to book a quarter-final spot.

A 12th minute Jack Lavery goal sent the loughshore men on their way and two excellent long range Stephen Cusack points eased them to a 1-4 to 0-1 advantage midway through the opening period.

Ógs failed to score from play in the opening half and their woes were compounded when free taker Marc Cullen was black carded and keeper Tim Harney gifted Seamus Forker a goal close to the break, leaving them trailing 2-6 to 0-2.

Two Ronan Clarke points on the turnover gave Ógs a glimmer of hope, but Maghery were streets ahead in power and vision and had the contest wrapped up when the Forker clan, Aidan, Séamus and Stefan stretched the gap to 12 point.

Pearse Óg did manage to outscore their opponents 0-3 to 0-2 in the closing stages, Conor Clarke (2) and Seán Moore the providers.

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