GAA Football

Injury to lone Ranger Paul Hughes puts Crossmaglen's 22-year run with Armagh in jeopardy

Jamie Clarke played in last season's All-Ireland quarter-final against Tyrone but won't be available this year
Andy Watters

UNLESS Armagh's lone Ranger Paul Hughes regains full fitness by May 19, the Orchardmen will take the field against Fermanagh without a representative from the Crossmaglen for the first time in a Championship game in 22 years.

You have to go back to Armagh's 1996 Ulster quarter-final clash with Derry to find the last time the county played without a representative from the south Armagh outfit in their ranks.

Since then, Crossmaglen has produced a conveyor belt of county stars including Oisin McConville, Francie Bellew, Paul Hearty, the McEntee twins, Tony and John, and the Kernan brothers who backboned some of the most formidable Armagh sides in history.

From 1997 to last season, 21 Crossmaglen clubmen lined out for their county with the high points coming in 2005 when seven Rangers featured in the Ulster semi-final against Derry and the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Laois. There were also seven in the Qualifier win over Wicklow in 2011.

But with Hughes rated doubtful, James Morgan and Jamie Clarke abroad and Oisin O'Neill opting out of the Armagh panel, a remarkable sequence stretching back over two decades could come to an end.

OISIN McConville's elder brother Jim was the sole Crossmaglen representative on the Armagh team that took on Derry in the Ulster Championship back in 1995.

The prolific corner-forward had retired from the inter-county scene by the time the sides came together again – this time at Celtic Park – the following summer meaning there was no Ranger in the line-up when the teams followed the band around the packed Bogside arena in 1996.

For the record, the Armagh team was: Benny Tierney, Mark McNeill, Gerard Reid, Colm Hanratty; John Rafferty, Damien Horisk, Kieran McGeeney; Jarlath Burns, Paul McGrane; Barry McCabe, Ger Houlihan, Martin McQuillan; Cathal O'Rourke, Martin Toye, Diarmaid Marsden

Substitutes: Justin McNulty, Des Mackin, Martin McQuillan (reintroduced)

Oisin made his Championship debut in 1997. His eight points in Omagh weren't enough to see off Tyrone, but Armagh's sporting summers rapidly grew longer and longer until, by the early ‘noughties', they were regularly running into the Autumn.

“There has always been a Crossmaglen presence on the Armagh teams, so it will be disappointing if we don't have any representatives, but that's the way football is,” said McConville.

“It changes from one decade to the next.

“Oisin O'Neill is travelling, James Morgan is gone, Jamie is gone and they are the obvious candidates and it'll be a massive blow not to see any of them playing because they are more than capable of being on that team. But you'd like to think that, in the next year or two, we'll be back up there having three, four or five representatives on the Armagh team.

“This year has just been a bit of a freak in that regard and I suppose the James Morgan thing is something that Kieran McGeeney will be particularly disappointed about because he had really found his feet last year.

“He would have been hoping for him to kick on this year. Even from Crossmaglen point of view, he has been sorely missed so far.

“Paul Hughes is probably Armagh's Mr Consistency, so for him to pick up that injury is very disappointing as well.”

McConville hasn't totally given up on Hughes being involved at Brewster Park. But even if he doesn't make the Ulster opener, McConville is confident that the tenacious man-marker will return at some stage in the Championship.

“Paul still has a couple of weeks,” said two-time Allstar McConville.

“I know it's a serious injury and he was struggling with it, but I hope he'll be playing some part in the Ulster Championship.

“It's important that Armagh get a result against Fermanagh, because it's been a while since we've had a run in Ulster. That's more important than what exact personnel are there.”

After a successful spell as senior manager, McConville is now one of the club's U6 coaches and is playing his part in bringing through the next generation of Crossmaglen stars.

“The fact that we've had players in every Armagh Championship for so long is testimony to the work that goes on at underage and that work is continuing,” he said.

“Cross are in a bit of a lull at the minute in that we haven't won a championship in a couple of years so there is probably an even bigger concentration on developing youth than there ever has been.

“It's just a matter of trying to keep it going and developing the talent that we have – that's the key for any club.”

2018

Fermanagh: ????

2017:

Tyrone: James Morgan, Paul Hughes, Jamie Clarke, Oisin O'Neill

Kildare: Morgan, Hughes, Clarke, O O'Neill

Tipperary: Morgan, Hughes, Clarke

Westmeath: Hughes, Morgan, Clarke

Fermanagh: Hughes, Clarke, O O'Neill

Down: Morgan, Hughes, Clarke, O O'Neill

2016

Cavan: Morgan, Tony Kernan

Laois: T Kernan

Laois (replay): T Kernan

2015

Donegal: Morgan, T Kernan, Clarke

Wicklow: Clarke, Morgan, T Kernan

Galway: Morgan, Clarke, T Kernan

2014

Cavan: Morgan, Clarke, T Kernan, Kyle Carragher, Aaron Kernan

Monaghan: Morgan, A Kernan, Carragher, Clarke, T Kernan

Monaghan (replay): Morgan, Clarke, T Kernan, A Kernan, Carragher

Tyrone: Morgan, T Kernan, Clarke, A Kernan, Carragher

Roscommon: Morgan, T Kernan, Carragher, Clarke, A Kernan

Meath: Morgan, T Kernan, Carragher, Clarke, A Kernan

Donegal: A Kernan, T Kernan, Clarke

2013

Cavan: Paul McKeown, A Kernan, T Kernan, Clarke, Johnny Hanratty

Wicklow: McKeown, Morgan, A Kernan, Clarke, T Kernan, J Hanratty

Leitrim: McKeown, Morgan, A Kernan, Clarke, T Kernan

Galway: McKeown, Morgan, A Kernan, Clarke, T Kernan

2012

Tyrone: A Kernan, Clarke, J Hanratty

Roscommon: J Hanratty, Clarke, T Kernan

2011

Down: Paul Hearty, A Kernan, T Kernan, J Clarke, Johnny Murtagh

Derry: Hearty, A Kernan, T Kernan, J Clarke, David McKenna, J Murtagh

Wicklow: Hearty, A Kernan, Clarke, D McKenna, J Hanratty, T Kernan, J Murtagh

Wicklow (replay): Hearty, A Kernan, J Hanratty, T Kernan, J Clarke, McKenna

Tyrone: Hearty, A Kernan, Clarke, T Kernan, D McKenna, J Hanratty

2010

Derry: P Hearty, A Kernan, J Clarke, M McNamee

Monaghan: P Hearty, A Kernan, J Clarke

Fermanagh: P Hearty, A Kernan, Francis Hanratty, J Clarke

Dublin: P Hearty, A Kernan, J Clarke, T Kernan, F Hanratty

2009

Tyrone: P Hearty, A Kernan, Steven Kernan, T Kernan

Monaghan: A Kernan, T Kernan, Paul Kernan, D McKenna

2008

Cavan: Hearty, Francie Bellew, A Kernan, S Kernan, T Kernan

Down: Hearty, Bellew, S Kernan, A Kernan, T Kernan

Fermanagh: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, S Kernan, O McConville, D McKenna

Wexford: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, S Kernan, P Kernan, D McKenna

2007

Donegal: Hearty, A Kernan, O McConville,

Derry: Hearty, A Kernan, S Kernan, O McConville

2006

Monaghan: Tony McEntee, A Kernan, O McConville, J McEntee

Monaghan (replay): T McEntee, A Kernan, O McConville

Fermanagh: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, O McConville, J McEntee

Fermanagh (replay): Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, S Kernan, O McConville, T McEntee

Donegal: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville

Kerry: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville

2005

Fermanagh: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville

Donegal: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville

Donegal (replay): Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Derry: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee, S Kernan

Tyrone: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Laois: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee, S Kernan

Tyrone: Hearty, Bellew, A Kernan, J McEntee, T McEntee

2004

Monaghan: Hearty, Bellew, T McEntee, O McConville, S Kernan

Cavan: Hearty, Bellew, T McEntee, O McConville

Donegal: Hearty, Bellew, T McEntee, O McConville, J McEntee

Fermanagh: Hearty, Bellew, T McEntee, O McConville

2003

Monaghan: Hearty, Bellew, J McEntee, T McEntee, O McConville

Waterford: Hearty, Bellew, O McConville, T McEntee, J McEntee

Antrim: Hearty, O McConville, T McEntee, J McEntee

Dublin: Hearty, Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Limerick: Hearty, Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Laois: Hearty, Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Donegal: Hearty, Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Tyrone: Hearty, Bellew, T McEntee, J McEntee, O McConville

2002

Tyrone: J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee, Bellew

Tyrone (replay): Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville

Fermanagh: Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville,

Donegal: Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville

Sligo: Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville

Dublin: Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville

Kerry: Bellew, J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

2001

Tyrone: J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Monaghan: T McEntee, O McConville, J McEntee

Galway: J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

2000

Tyrone: John Donaldson, J McEntee, T McEntee, O McConville

Fermanagh: John Donaldson, J McEntee, T McEntee, O McConville, C Short

1999

Donegal: O McConville, J McEntee

Donegal (replay): J McEntee, O McConville

Derry: J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Down: J McEntee, O McConville, T McEntee

Meath: T McEntee, J Donaldson, J McEntee, O McConville

1998

Down: T McEntee, O McConville

Derry: T McEntee, J McEntee, O McConville

1997

Tyrone: O McConville, C Short

1996

Derry: None

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