GAA Football

Best team won says Crossmaglen manager as Gweedore power into first ever Ulster final

Crossmaglen manager Donal Murtagh admitted that "the best team won" in yesterday's second Ulster semi-final
Andy Watters

CROSSMAGLEN manager Donal Murtagh conceded that “the best team won on the day” after Gweedore saw them off to reach their first ever Ulster final.

Three goals in the first half (all from Daire O Baoill) and two red cards in the second (shown to Johnny Hanratty and Rian O’Neill) were the crucial stats as Mervyn O’Donnell’s Donegal champions deservedly progressed to the decider against Monaghan’s Scotstown.

“You have to give credit to Gweedore,” said Murtagh.

“They chopped and changed men, they were moving from one position to another all the time. I saw that against Cargin – they broke from the middle of the field and they had runners from everywhere and (Odhran) MacNaillais back today was a big plus for them.

“They have a quality team and they are a serious big outfit. We’re disappointed but the best team won on the day.”

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Meanwhile, along the hallway under the stand at Healy Park, Gweedore manager O’Donnell reflected on a rags-to-riches rise for his club. Gweedore have gone from county championship also-rans to Ulster finalists in two years under his management.

“I suppose we came into that game as underdogs again and we are delighted with the win,” said O’Donnell.

“You take these games one by one and you take a look at the teams, you take a look at your own personnel and you try to get your match-ups right.

“That's basically what it came down to. A couple of the younger lads stepped up to the mark there, especially Dara Ó Baoill.

“There was a massive space between the midfield area and the full-forward line and they were inviting us into it and maybe making us look better than what we were.

“I suppose we did our video analysis and everything else, but we didn't expect to see as much space between the forwards and the midfield.”

Cross manager Murtagh added that he was “immensely proud of the players” and admitted he hadn’t realized that Hanratty (who was also sent off against Coalisland in the previous round) had been on a yellow card when he went out for the second half. Hanratty plays on ‘the edge’ and his dismissal all but ended Crossmaglen’s chances yesterday.

“We didn’t know he was on a yellow card or we probably would have had him off,” he said.

“That’s a mistake on the management’s behalf but we went back at them again and then they got a lucky goal.

“The ball came back off the post into Cassidy’s hands and he stuck it in the net. Then we had another mountain to climb but, in fairness to them, we couldn’t be more proud of them in the second half.

“It was 14 versus 15 against wind and at times we were 7, 8, 9 points down and they fought to the bitter end.”

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