GAA Football

Crossmaglen will go to their "death bed" playing attacking brand of Gaelic Football

Crossmaglen Rangers hold dear to their footballing principles. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

CROSSMAGLEN manager Donal Murtagh says the south Armagh men will go to their “death beds” playing their trademark brand of attacking football no matter what is going on around them.

On Saturday night Murtagh's Rangers dethroned county champions Armagh Harps with a scintillating display of forward-looking, kick-passing football showcasing skills rarely seen nowadays.

“If everybody else is playing puke football, we'll play attractive-looking football,” said Murtagh.

“We'll go to our death beds playing that way. It's the way football should be played and, if we go down, we'll go down fighting like that. It (negativity) crept into county football a number of years ago and it has crept into club football now and it's hard to look at.

“When we took the job on this year the club told us what they wanted and it was exactly what we wanted to do anyhow – play open, attractive, hard-hitting, aggressive football. We'll see where that takes us.”

In the first of last weekend's Armagh quarter-finals Ballymacnab beat Killeavy 1-10 to 0-3 in the type of attritional encounter that has now become the norm. Disappointed Armagh Harps manager John Toner declined an interview on Saturday night but his team deserves credit for their part in contrasting affair in which they battled back twice when Cross threatened to run away with the game.

“In patches there we played good football,” said Cross manager Murtagh.

“We took our foot off the pedal a few times which we wouldn't be happy with but we're getting there.

“That was a big game, the Harps are county champions obviously and they're not to be taken lightly. It was a good performance on the whole.

“The Harps are a good outfit, I know they haven't been showing it this year but bad teams don't win county titles. They still have a sprinkling of good players there like Charlie (Vernon) and Ryan McShane and Joe McIlroy. They're a difficult team and we're happy with how we came through it.”

There are experienced All-Ireland club championship winners like Aaron Kernan, Johnny Hanratty, Mickey McNamee and Kyle Carragher throughout the Crossmaglen ranks and alongside them are emerging youngsters like Aaron Smylie and Johnny McKeever who are both in their first year at senior level.

“We have some senior players there who are quality,” said Murtagh.

“Kyle Carragher gave an exhibition and Aaron Kernan is still a Rolls Royce at the back.”

He added: “Mickey McNamee, the old stager, kicked a couple of good scores and Johnny Hanratty showed that if he gets the fitness he can be a big player for us. Paul Hughes, Jamie McEvoy, the two O'Neills (Rian and Oisin)…

“The list goes on and we'd be hoping to get another performance like that in the semi-final.”

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