GAA Football

Brian Fox in the box seat as Maghery prepare for Crossmaglen challenge in Armagh Championship final

Brian Fox (centre) combines with Stefan Forker to tackle Crossmaglen's Oisin O'Neill. Picture Bill Smyth.
Andy Watters

BRIAN Fox was sitting in the stands the last time (the only time) his club Maghery won the Armagh senior championship title.

That was back in 2016 when the Sean McDermott’s outfit got their hands on the Gerry Fagan Cup for the first time in their history after a 1-13 to 0-13 victory against St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna. Studying for a Masters took up all of Fox’s time back then and wasn’t able to commit to the training. He returned to the fold in 2017 when Maghery reached the final again but lost that to Armagh Harps.

Missing out on four years ago gives the fleet-footed Fox an added incentive to get a winners’ medal this year when Maghery face Crossmaglen in their third final in five seasons.

“I didn’t play in the one we won so it’s a bit of extra motivation for me to try and be on the pitch when we win the county final,” said the pacey frontman.

The 2020 finalists met at the semi-final stage last year when two Oisin O’Neill goals propelled Cross to a 2-9 to 0-8 victory. Maghery went a stage further by winning Saturday night’s semi against a battling Pearse Og side that gave as good as they got in the early exchanges.

However, Maghery grabbed control of the game after the first water break and hit an unanswered goal and five points before half-time. Manager Finnian Moriarty rated that spell as the team’s best passage of football so far this season and Fox agrees.

“We’ve had a short season so it has been hard to get boys’ game-time but boys came off the bench tonight and helped us see the game out,” he said.

“We’re trying to build towards the final and we’re just happy to be back there. We’re a wee, small country club – the other clubs in the semi-finals were all bigger than us - so there’s a bit of pride there for us to get into a third county final in five years and we’ll enjoy it.”

Fox scored two second half points on Saturday night and is one of a number of pacey players in the Maghery side who caused real problems for the Pearse Og defence.

“There are a few flying-machines on the panel,” he said.

“We push each other in training and there’d be a bit of bragging rights to see who wins the sprints in training.”

And the loughshore men also have a route-one option in Ronan Lappin. The tall full-forward caught a terrific high ball into the square on Saturday evening and was dragged down as he tried to shoot. The penalty Maghery were awarded (scored by Stephen Cusack) turned the game their way and after it they never looked back.

“Ronan is a big miss whenever he’s not there for us,” said Fox.

“He’s been out injured there for a while but he has come back and he did a great job there winning the penalty. It was great to get that score and we really pushed on from there.

“We’re very happy to get through it. It was a good battle and there were times when it looked like they were going to pull us close again. But we managed to get over the line and make another county final.”

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GAA Football